US: Child labour issues in Thai shrimp industry resolved
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US: Child labour issues in Thai shrimp industry resolved

Thai shrimp to be removed from list of products subject to additional procurement rules

Shrimp are sold at the Mahachai market in Samut Sakhon. (File photo)
Shrimp are sold at the Mahachai market in Samut Sakhon. (File photo)

The United States is preparing to remove shrimp from Thailand from its annual list of goods produced by child labour or forced labour, according to Kenika Ounjit, a deputy spokesperson for the government.

Ms Kenika said the decision by the US Department of Labor (DOL) showed that the government was seriously addressing child labour issues to comply with international standards.

A statement from the US agency posted in the Federal Register on May 10 said that while children previously worked under forced labour conditions in the production of shrimp, “the trend appears to have been significantly reduced”.

It said it based its conclusions on “recent, credible and corroborated information from various sources”.

The move reflects the success of government policies and measures introduced by the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives to improve labour practices in the shrimp industry, Ms Kenika said.

The DOL placed shrimp from Thailand on its executive orders list back in 2009. The list is intended to ensure that US federal agencies do not procure goods made by forced or indentured child labour.

Under procurement regulations, federal contractors that supply products on the list must certify that they have made a good-faith effort to determine whether forced or indentured child labour was used to produce the items supplied.

As of July 13, 2022, the list comprised 34 products from 26 countries.

The DOL said its sources indicated that children in Thailand — primarily migrant children — were peeling shrimp in small, unregulated “shrimp sheds”.

In more than a few isolated incidents, these children were engaged in forced child labour, it said.

Following international attention and action on labour exploitation in Thailand’s seafood industry, the Thai government and other stakeholders made a series of concerted significant efforts to address child labour and forced child labour throughout the seafood industry, including in the shrimp peeling sector, it added.

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