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Are Amazon, Walmart, and eBay’s online 'marketplaces' providing a refuge for goods made with forced labor?

Author: Charlotte Tate & Eric Gottwald, International Labor Rights Forum, Published on: 19 February 2019

...[W]hile browsing online, we were surprised to find that we could buy cotton hand towels advertised as “made in Turkmenistan” on the websites of Amazon, Walmart, and eBay. In May 2018, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) took the extraordinary step of exercising its authority under the Tariff Act to ban the import of any products containing cotton from Turkmenistan due to the country’s systematic use of state-sponsored forced labor during the annual cotton harvest...So if Turkmen cotton is banned from the U.S. market and shunned by major apparel brands, how are Amazon, Walmart, and eBay getting away with it? The short answer is that none of them are directly importing or selling the towels, but instead allowing “third-party sellers” access to their e-commerce platforms in exchange for a cut of the sales proceeds...After being contacted by a Thomson Reuters Foundation reporter, Amazon responded by immediately removing the towels and several other “100% cotton” Goza products from its website, while leaving other items up. By contrast, Walmart and eBay continue to allow Goza to sell the towels on their websites and have deflected questions about forced labor to Goza as the third-party seller. 

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Related companies: adidas Amazon.com eBay Gap H&M Marks & Spencer Walmart