Trilateral Joint Statement from the Trade and Labour Ministers of the United States, Japan, and the European Union on the International Labour Organization’s Global Forced Labour Estimates

September 15, 2022

Ambassador Katherine Tai, United States Trade Representative, Secretary Marty Walsh, U.S. Department of Labor, Mr. Nishimura Yasutoshi, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan, Mr. Kato Katsunobu, Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare of Japan, Mr. Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade, European Commission, and Mr. Nicolas Schmit, Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, European Commission released the following joint statement on the International Labor Organization’s Global Forced Labor Estimates on September 15, 2022.
We, the Trade and Labor Ministers of the United States, Japan, and the European Union, share a concern about the global situation on forced labor and the newly released forced labor estimates from the International Labor Organization (ILO), Walk Free, and the International Organization for Migration’s Global Estimates of Modern Slavery report. We take note of the estimated 28 million individuals in forced labor, and that the number has increased by 3 million since 2016. Furthermore, 86 percent of those in forced labor are in the private sector compared with 14 percent who are in state-imposed forced labor. The number of women and girls in forced labor is 11.8 million, of which 3.3 million are children. Migrant workers face three times the risk of being in forced labor compared with non-migrant workers.
We acknowledge the challenges associated with data collection and measurement for hard to reach victims in forced labor, and underscore the importance of United Nations organizations, such as the International Labor Organization, being able to engage in transparent data, research, and independent assessments to inform evidenced-based policy making on human rights and international labor standards.  We commend the statisticians and researchers who are committed to data integrity and transparency.
We reemphasize our commitment to eradicating all forms of forced labor, including state-sponsored forced labor, from our rules-based multilateral trading system, and resolve to strengthen national and international efforts to meet this commitment. There is a moral imperative that we do so. Additionally, recalling the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work of 1998, as amended in 2022, and the Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization of 2008, violations of fundamental labor rights – including forced labor – should never be used to gain an unfair competitive advantage in our global trading system.
We acknowledge that eradicating forced labor requires a multifaceted and multistakeholder approach that addresses the root causes of forced labor. This includes promoting human rights and international labor standards through measures such as due diligence. Acknowledging that a majority of forced labor involves the private sector, we will continue working towards enhancing clarity and predictability for businesses by clearly communicating their responsibilities in addressing forced labor in global supply chains and encouraging stronger action by them.
We welcome the 2022 G7 Trade Ministers’ Statement, and recall the 2021 G7 Trade Ministers’ Statement on Forced Labor and the 2022 G7 Employment Ministers’ Statement, and share a commitment to explore new policies and initiatives that contribute to the fight against forced labor in global supply chains. We intend to examine current trade and labor policies that need to be strengthened and address any existing gaps. We also recognize the importance of engaging in dialogue with relevant stakeholders, including in developing countries, to further efforts to eradicate forced labor, and identifying opportunities for sharing data, evidence, tools, and resources.
We thank the ILO for its leadership in addressing forced labor globally, including through utilizing its supervisory mechanism, providing technical expertise, proposing appropriate policy responses, fostering international cooperation, and measuring progress on national and global efforts to eradicate forced labor.