Contact: Susan Smith
Today, the United States Department of Labor (DOL), pursuant to Executive Order 13126, "The List of Products Produced by Forced or Indentured Child Labor," has published a proposed update to the list of products covered under the Order, and has invited public comment. The initial determination proposing to update the Executive Order 13126 list includes cocoa from Cote d'Ivoire.
The following is a response from Larry Graham, President of the National Confectioners Association (NCA) on behalf of the global cocoa industry.
The cocoa industry shares the concerns of the United States Department of Labor (DOL) with respect to the issue of child labor in the supply chains of products procured by the United States government.
We have worked closely with the department since 2001 to address this issue in the cocoa supply chain of Cote d'Ivoire. At the same time, we have serious concerns that the process of listing countries and products - with no apparent regard for efforts and progress made towards improving the situation - is likely to compromise the ongoing efforts of those committed to a lasting positive change in Cote d'Ivoire.
Cocoa from Cote d'Ivoire is grown on more than 700,000 small family farms in rural and remote areas where the vast majority of children live with their parents. These farm families face many challenges, but it is clear they play a vital role in the stability of their nation's economy.
Without question, we remain committed to addressing important labor issues on cocoa farms.
Through the continued efforts of the government of Cote d'Ivoire, and in partnership with our industry, international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and other key stakeholders - we are making a difference. In thousands of cocoa farming communities, programs are underway to help children and their families, and to educate farmers on safe, responsible labor practices. Critical to this effort, Cote d'Ivoire is now executing its own national action plan to eliminate child labor. To be clear, we do not believe that cocoa from Cote d'Ivoire should be included on the final Executive Order list.
For our part, we believe that the U.S. government should, instead, offer its long-term support to these ongoing efforts, and acknowledge the importance this progress signals for the future of cocoa farming families. To do anything less weakens our collective ability to move forward.
For this reason, the global cocoa industry, along with its key partners, will take advantage of the department's 90-day public comment period for this initial determination to ensure the strides made by the government of Cote d'Ivoire are fully recognized.
It is our sincere hope that following this comment period, the Department of Labor will remove cocoa from Cote d'Ivoire from the list.
About the National Confectioners Association (NCA): Founded in 1884 in Chicago by representatives of 69 confectionery manufacturing firms, the National Confectioners Association is one of the oldest, most respected trade associations in the world. Today NCA has more than 600 members and is the major association representing the entire confectionery industry, offering education and leadership in manufacturing, technical research, public relations, retailing practices, government relations and statistical analyses. NCA fosters industry growth by advancing and promoting the interests of the confectionery industry, its customers and its consumers.
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