Months after American companies, including Nestlé and Cargill, were criticized for allegedly selling products made with slave-caught fish and forced labor-produced chocolate, President Obama has signed a bill that will officially end these practices.
The measure, which was sanctioned by Congress last week, closes an 86-year-old loophole in The Tariff Act of 1930, which made it possible to block slave labor-produced goods.
The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act signed by Obama eliminated the vague phrase "consumptive demand,” which allowed market demand to dictate whether or not the tariff act would be enacted upon.
“The mere deterrent effect of closing this loophole is a great step forward,” Gil Kerlikowske, commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, told Raw Story in a phone interview. “We’re going to make sure that is heavily noted throughout the world.”
Nestlé, Cargill, and other confectionary companies face legal allegations of slave labor following an investigation that found fishermen working in Thailand were subject to cruel forced-labor-like conditions. Nestlé is also facing a lawsuit from three former cocoa plantation employees who claim that they were forced to work on farms in Mali when they were children.
"If the U.S. government works to really keep out goods made with forced labor, this change will have a profound ripple effect on supply chains worldwide," David Abramowitz, who advocated for the change as vice president for Humanity United, told ABC News.