Read this month’s update on trade and sustainability topics, with on the ground analysis from our international network.
Network Representative, Austria and Germany
German Supply Chain Law on Hold
The plan for a German supply chain law which requires German companies with more than 500 employees to report on how they exercise their due diligence with regard to human rights in their global supply chain has been halted by the Chancellery and the Ministry of Economics. The Ministries of Development and Labour and Social Affairs originally intended to publish a cornerstone paper on this law in mid-March. One reason for putting this supply chain law on hold has been so that the second monitoring survey, conducted in line with the National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights, can be finalised first. Another reason is the particularly challenging situation due to Covid-19 and its impact on companies.
Expert Advisory Council for Green Button Appointed
German Development Minister Gerd Müller has appointed five experts as members of an independent advisory council for the Green Button, a so-called meta-label for textiles recently issued by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The council will advise the ministry in the process of developing the Green Button certification scheme further, e.g. looking at traceability of certified products for consumers and broader coverage of production steps in the supply chain. The advice of the council is planned to be publicly available.
More details about the Green Button (launched in September 2019) can be found on their website (in German).
Network Representative, Spain
Coronavirus Implications for Spanish Economy
The Spanish Government has taken a string of measures to fight the spread of COVID-19 in the country, including a general order to close non-essential retail commerce, a ban on citizen's circulation rights and other measures, all of which will affect the economy.
On Tuesday 17 March, the PM announced a €200 billion package to help companies and protect workers and other vulnerable groups affected by the spiralling coronavirus crisis. More information.
US & Canada
Network Representative, US and Canada
US Lawmakers Introduce the Uyghur Forced Labour Prevention Act
The bill, introduced on 11 March, is aimed at preventing goods made by forced labour in Xinjiang, China, from being imported into the US. The legislation assumes that all goods manufactured in the region are made with forced labour, specifically by the Uyghur minority group, and are banned from entering the country. China has denied that Uyghurs are subjected to forced labour. The US already prohibits goods made by forced, prison, or child labour from entering the country under the Tariff Act of 1930. However, this bill differs in that it assumes all goods manufactured in the region are produced through inhumane means and as such should be banned; also known as a “rebuttable presumption”.
amfori has established a dedicated task force to look into forced labour issues in different countries such as China and will share more details with members in due time.
Network Representative, Switzerland
National Council and Council of States Sessions Suspended
It has not yet been possible to finalise the settlement of differences with the Corporate Responsibility Initiative. In the meantime, the sessions of the National Council and the Council of States have been suspended due to Covid-19. A decision will be taken as soon as possible on the new periods for discussion of initiatives and legislative proposals. More information.
Australia and New Zealand
Network Representative, Australia and New Zealand
Australia Announces Travel Restrictions
Australia has announced major restrictions on overseas travel, large gatherings and visits to care homes in an effort to limit the spread of Covid-19.
On 18 March, Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, announced a suite of new measures to try to contain the virus. A blanket “do not travel” warning is now in place that asks Australians not to visit any other country. A ban on non-essential indoor gatherings of more than 100 people has also been introduced. These measures build on existing rules that were implemented on 16 March. More information.
Covid-19 and the measures to contain it are expected to have serious adverse effects on Australia’s economy. On 12 March, the government announced an $11.4 billion stimulus package which will attempt to mitigate these effects. More recently, they announced additional packages of $66 billion and $84 billion. More information.