Thai Seafood: To Buy or Boycott?

“Thailand’s seafood industry defended itself Tuesday against allegations that it uses forced and child labor, after the U.S. State Department last week downgraded the country’s ranking to the lowest level in its annual human trafficking report. [For more on the report, see here; more about sex trafficking than seafood…]

“The Southeast Asian nation exports more than $2 billion worth of shrimp each year, much of it to the U.S., where media reports in the Guardian and other publications have brought wider public attention to allegations of forced labor in Thailand’s fishery industry, particularly in the export-focused shrimp sector. The U.S. government’s move to rank Thailand alongside North Korea, Cuba and Iran in the lowest “Tier 3” ranking in its annual Trafficking in Persons Report has further focused attention on the issue and created a public relations headache for Thailand’s military leaders, who seized power in a coup d’état last month

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“French supermarket firm Carrefour CA.FR +0.27% and Norway’s ICA have suspended Charoen Pokhphand Foods from their list of shrimp suppliers after the Guardian reported that “trash fish” caught using forced labor was used as feed on shrimp farms. CP Foods has since said it would audit its entire supply chain.

“Other customers, notably Costco Wholesale Corp. COST +0.95% , have maintained orders, and Thai executives said they intend to visit the U.S. to assure customers that the industry doesn’t use illegal labor and complies with local and international labor laws. “Costco is scheduled to visit us at the end of this month to receive all documents to help them explain the situation to their clients,” Mr. Poj said.

WSJ

 

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