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Most fashion brands claim they have anti-forced labour policies when being urged to stop sourcing from Xinjiang, media report says
Author: Reuters, Published on: 30 July 2020
“Brands urged to stop sourcing from China's Xinjiang over forced labour fears”, 23 July 2020
… More than 180 organisations urged brands from Adidas to Amazon to end sourcing of cotton and clothing from the region and cut ties with any suppliers in China that benefit from the forced labour of the ethnic Uighurs and other Muslim groups…
While most fashion brands do not source from factories in Xinjiang, many of their supply chains are likely to be tainted by cotton picked by Uighurs that is exported across China and used by other suppliers, the rights groups said in a letter…
The Thomson Reuters Foundation sent emailed questions to more than 30 leading global retailers about their supply chains in China and the origins of the cotton they sourced.
Almost all of the brands did not respond directly to the questions, but most said they had anti-forced labour policies and required their suppliers to comply with a code of conduct.
Only one retailer - U.S.-based Costco - declined to comment.
All the companies that responded - including Gap, Patagonia and Zara-owner Inditex - said they did not source from factories in Xinjiang, but the majority could not confirm that their supply chain was free of cotton picked from the region.
Japanese retailer Muji said it used cotton from Xinjiang but that independent auditors had found “no evidence of accusations of forced labour ... at their mills”.
U.S.-based PVH - owner of brands from Calvin Klein to Tommy Hilfiger - said it would cut ties with any factories or mills that produce fabric or use cotton from Xinjiang within a year.
“The only way brands can ensure they are not profiting from exploitation is by exiting the region and ending relationships with suppliers propping up this Chinese government system,” said Jasmine O’Connor, chief executive of Anti-Slavery International.
Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), a global non-profit aiming to improve conditions in the garment sector, said in March it would no longer license so-called Better Cotton from Xinjiang.
Companies such as IKEA and H&M, who use BCI to source cotton, have previously said they backed the decision to suspend licensing in the region and would no longer source from there…