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EU-China investment agreement: EU negotiator defends forced labour provisions amid criticism

"EU-China investment treaty: top European negotiator Maria Martin-Prat defends forced-labour provisions amid criticism" 27 January 2021

The chief negotiator of the European Union’s new investment deal with China has defended the forced-labour provisions, saying that Beijing’s obligations to ratify key international standards “can be measured over time”.

Speaking at a webinar on Wednesday, Maria Martin-Prat said Brussels would continue to push “autonomous measures on forced labour”, implying that it would be unreasonable to expect an investment treaty to be a silver bullet for such social issues.

“Even though we think it’s very important to engage, for instance, in the ratification of the ILO (International Labour Organization) conventions, and to work with other countries to make sure that practices such as forced labour are eradicated, we don’t believe the EU can achieve that goal on that basis only … what partners may be willing to commit themselves to do under a treaty. And we are looking into, as well, autonomous measures to fight against forced labour,” she said.

As part of the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI), signed on December 30, China agreed to make “continued and sustained efforts on its own initiative to pursue ratification of the fundamental ILO Conventions No 29 and 105, if it has not yet ratified them”. [...]

Part of the text was unveiled this week, as China continues to face intense scrutiny for the alleged use of Uygurs and other ethnic minority groups in forced-labour camps, mainly in the Western region of Xinjiang. China has denied the charges. [...]

Part of the following stories

China: 83 major brands implicated in report on forced labour of ethnic minorities from Xinjiang assigned to factories across provinces; Includes company responses

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