18 Jun 2023

Small businesses most at risk of modern slavery in supply chain - report

2:49 pm on 18 June 2023
(211231) -- PHNOM PENH, Dec. 31, 2021 (Xinhua) -- Garment workers make clothes at a factory in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Dec. 17, 2021.
  Officials and experts said Cambodia has pinned high hope on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA) to boost its economic growth in the post-COVID-19 pandemic era.
The two free trade deals are due to enter into force on Jan. 1, 2022.
Enjoy Ho, deputy chairman of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, said the two deals would bring about better development for Cambodia's textile and garment industry and added that with tariffs reduced or eliminated, cost for production would be cheaper. (Xinhua/Wu Changwei) (Photo by Wu Changwei / XINHUA / Xinhua via AFP)

Garment workers make clothes at a factory in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Photo: Wu Changwei / Xinhua via AFP

New Zealand businesses could be vulnerable to financial and reputational damage as they buy materials produced under child or forced labour, according to a new report.

World Vision found in 2019 that five percent of New Zealand's total imports were shown to be linked to child labour or forced labour.

But a new report says that not all NZ businesses yet understand the risks of doing so.

World Vision found that in 2022, almost half - 49 percent - of the surveyed businesses did not plan to take any actions to understand modern slaveries in their supply chain.

Small businesses - with little understanding of their supply chain and no power over suppliers - were the most at risk.

Meanwhile, more than half - 53 percent - of medium-large businesses felt they could influence suppliers to address modern slavery, but only 30 percent of small businesses felt the same.

The building and construction sectors were the least willing to address the problem, the report showed.

Among all businesses with no modern slavery initiatives and no plan to implement them, the sector took up almost a third (28 percent).

World Vision NZ spokesperson Rebekah Armstrong said with 50 million people trapped in slavery, Kiwi businesses needed support to take action.

"We know that Kiwi businesses value fairness and equality," Armstrong said.

"Modern slavery doesn't fit with these values and our business community needs legislation to provide guidance on the steps they need to take to address this matter."

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