Exports, Imports and Trade Compliance

Campaign Group Exits Blood Diamond Trading Prevention Scheme

Global Witness has announced that it has withdrawn from the Kimberley Process, the international scheme established to prevent the trading of “blood diamonds”. According to Global Witness, the Kimberley Process has displayed little interest in evolving or reform over the past nine years since its establishment, rendering it “increasingly outdated”. As a result, “the sad truth is that most consumers still cannot be sure where their diamonds come from, nor whether they are financing armed violence or abusive regimes”, opined Global Witness founding director Charmian Gooch.
Global Witness’ media release (6 December 2011) 

Related news item:
Reuters: Global Witness pulls out of “blood diamond” scheme (6 December 2011)
(Source: Global Witness; Reuters)

Oil Company Bribes Delay Ugandan Oil

The New York Times (NY Times) reports that following the 2006 discovery of oil reserves in Uganda, concerns are growing that the country’s corruption and political manoeuvring could squander the expected US$2 billion annual revenue. Reportedly, 40% of Ugandans currently subsist on less than US$1.25 a day, with the expected oil revenue predicted to be enough to “propel Uganda into the strata of middle-income countries”. However, Uganda is reportedly considered to be among the most corrupt nations in the world, with senior government officials, including the prime minister, being accused of accepting bribes from oil company. Uganda’s “web of scandals” is likely to delay the long anticipated oil production, according to the NY Times.
NY Times: Uganda’s Oil Could Be Gift That Becomes a Curse (25 November 2011)
(Source: NY Times)

Global Retailers Boycott Bonded Labour in India

The Economic Times reports that major retailers GAP, Walmart, C&A, H&M, Primark, Mothercare and Tesco have instructed their suppliers not to source materials from Indian textile mills that employ young girls under “Sumangali” contracts which, according to welfare organisations, amount to bonded labour. Reportedly, the contracts were introduced in the 1990s in Tamil Nadu and attracts “[t]housands of rural and tribal girls” to work unpaid for three-years, with a lump sum being paid to their families at the end of the period.
The Economic Times: GAP, Walmart, C&A, H&M warn their Indian suppliers against textile mills that involve child & bonded-labour (16 November 2011)
(Source: The Economic Times)

Rainforest Wood Found in Kmart Envelopes
Asia Pacific

The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reports that a US laboratory, commissioned by environment group Markets for Change, has found that Kmart home-brand Office One envelopes contain 19% mixed tropical hardwood fibre sourced from rainforest. The findings reportedly came as a surprise to Kmart, with a spokesperson stating that the company would investigate the claim. Other major Australian retailers such as IGA and Officeworks have reportedly stopped receiving supplies from companies like Asia Pulp and Paper which are suspected to use rainforest wood in their products.
SMH: Kmart envelopes fail rainforest test (26 September 2011)
(Source: SMH)

Recommendation Against Palm Oil Labelling
Asia Pacific

The House Standing Committee on Economics (HSCE) has released an Advisory report on the Food Standards Amendment (Truth in Labelling – Palm Oil) Bill 2011 (September 2011). The HSCE recommends that the House of Representatives should not pass the Food Standards Amendment (Truth in Labelling – Palm Oil) Bill 2010 (Cth) “because the legislation is flawed and would result in a range of unintended consequences”.
Further information from the HSCE

Trade Minister Craig Emerson has welcomed the report, stating that the Bill would have “cost Australian industry an estimated $150 million and breach[ed] Australia’s World Trade Organization obligations”.
Trade Minister’s media release (19 September 2011)
(Source: HSCE; Trade Minister; Lawlex Legislative Alert & Premium Research)