February 13, 2023
WASHINGTON – Ambassador Jayme White today delivered remarks at a meeting of the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Human Trafficking. In observance of National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, principals across the federal government convened to assess the U.S. government’s anti-trafficking response and shared their respective progress toward achieving the goals set forth in the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking.
In his remarks, Ambassador White underscored the importance of using trade to combat forced labor and working with partners and allies to create new trade tools to address this issue.
Ambassador White’s remarks as prepared for delivery are below:
Hello, everyone. It is an honor to be here to share what we are doing together to contribute to the Administration’s commitment to combat human trafficking and defend human dignity.
President Biden is clear that forced labor will not be accepted in the United States or anywhere around the world. And I am proud to work for a President that understands the role trade policy plays in addressing this issue.
Earlier decades gave us cheap goods but growing inequality, and workers and communities were displaced and left behind – with the most extreme consequence resulting in human trafficking and forced labor.
Whether it’s the cotton in the clothes we wear or metals in the cars we drive, such abuses threaten to undermine the very fabric of our global trading system.
That is why we need a human-centric approach to trade. That means seeing the people at each stage of our supply chains, and working to promote workers’ rights. That also means using trade as a force for good to address inequity and to improve the livelihoods for more of our citizens.
This is foundational to the Administration’s worker-centered trade policy.
These values are at the heart of all our trade initiatives, including the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework negotiations, our new initiatives with Kenya and Taiwan, and our work on fisheries subsidies at the World Trade Organization.
Last year, Ambassador Tai announced that USTR will develop its first-ever trade strategy to combat forced labor. Our teams are hard at work to ensure that trade elevates workers everywhere.
But the United States cannot do this alone. So, we have been teaming up with like-minded partners to pursue our common ideals and to deliver concrete actions to combat forced labor.
- Issuing a trilateral joint statement with trade and labor ministers in Japan and the European Union under the Trilateral Partnership to raise awareness of forced labor globally;
- Launching the U.S.-EU Trade and Labor Dialogue to bring labor, business, and government representatives together to collaborate on combatting forced labor in our supply chains and exploring the impact of digital trade on workers; and
- Signing a Memorandum of Cooperation to establish the U.S. – Japan Task Force to Promote Human Rights and International Labor Standards in Supply Chains under the U.S. – Japan Trade Partnership.
I really want to acknowledge the work of the Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force and all our staff who worked hard and in record time over the last year to implement the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, including enforcing the rebuttable presumption and issuing the enforcement strategy.
This is truly a team effort. Through each of these efforts, we are bringing together all stakeholders – labor organizations, governments, civil society, survivors, and businesses – to use trade as a tool to root out human trafficking and forced labor.
And this is just the beginning of our work. Together, we will continue to push ahead for a more just and freer world – to hear all voices, to support power and agency for workers, their communities, and our common good. Thank you.