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Australian Current Affairs

Mining magnate calls on Australian government to use FTA’s to attack slavery

Slavery Chain

Slavery Chain

Australian mining magnate Andrew Forrest has called on Tony Abbott to insist new global trade agreements have clauses prohibiting forced labour, as he launched a global slave index in London.

The chairman of Fortescue Metals Group said slavery was “as common as church mice, and an insistence on an enforced labour-proof supply chain in any trade agreement should be fundamental”.

The Prime Minister has set a 12-month deadline on clinching trade agreements with China, South Korea and Japan, and Australia is in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations that could produce an agreement by the end of the year.

Mr Forrest, spurred on by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, said the global slavery index was aimed at providing the tools to eradicate the practice.

The global slavery index, endorsed by international figures including former British prime minister Tony Blair and former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, found 29 million people were living in conditions of modern slavery.

Mr Forrest said the index, which is funded through his Walk Free Foundation, would be updated in six months to include a corporate index and would be published annually.

Mauritania was ranked first on the index, with the highest estimated proportion of its population enslaved of any country in the world. The West African country, with its deeply entrenched system of hereditary slavery, is thought to have 150,000 slaves in a population of 3.8 million.

Haiti, where child slavery is also widespread, was in second place, with Pakistan third.

India had the highest number of people enslaved in absolute terms, with about 14 million people in modern slavery, almost half of the worldwide total.

China followed, with an estimated 2.9 million enslaved, and Pakistan came in third, with more than two million.

The Walk Free Foundation is a global organisation with a mission to end modern slavery.

Mr Forrest was galvanised to fight slavery after his daughter worked at an orphanage in Nepal, which turned out to be an instrument of the slavery trade.

Source: The Australian – Global trade agreements must be used to drive en end to slavery: Forrest

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