The United States has upgraded Thailand to the Tier 2 Watch List in their yearly human trafficking report.
Thailand was previously in Tier 3, alongside the world’s worst offending nations for human trafficking. The move to Tier 2 comes in response to Thailand Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s ongoing efforts to address the country’s human trafficking issues. These efforts include tightened regulations and increased compliance checks.
The U.S. State Department determines rank based on the criteria outlined in the Human Trafficking Persons Report, which examines the efforts of 188 governments to fight modern day slavery.
Thailand was placed on the Tier 3 list following its military coup in 2014, shortly after the nation received heavy criticism for the high prevalence of forced and slave labor in its fishing industry.
How Do These Changes Affect Businesses?
Thailand’s upgrade to the Tier 2 Watch List could ease the concerns of some companies who may have considered sourcing their products elsewhere. This may also decrease the possibility of sanctions from the EU, which threatened to ban seafood imports in April 2015 unless Thailand addressed illegal fishing and labor abuses within its fisheries industry. Sanctions in the form of a ban would have huge implications on businesses and suppliers selling and buying seafood from Thailand.
While the U.S. upgraded Thailand’s rating on the list, neighboring country Myanmar was downgraded along with several other countries like Uzbekistan and Haiti. As the third-largest seafood distributor in the world, 90 percent of Thailand’s fishing labor force comes from neighboring countries like Myanmar. The risk of exploitation in the foreign work force reinforces the need for companies to maintain their due diligence practices.
Companies that do not perform due diligence on their supply chain are at increased risk of reputational damage, loss of contract and a decrease in business. They could also face increased scrutiny from consumers, governments and non-government organizations (NGOs).
Assent Compliance helps companies perform due diligence on their supply chain, identify risks for human trafficking and modern slavery, and comply with global anti-human trafficking laws.