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No clean chit from US to Indian carpet industry

By Lalit K Jha
November 10, 2010 18:40 IST
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A millThe United States said on Tuesday it had not given any clean chit to the Indian carpet industry on the issue of using child and forced labour.

"The Labor Department wishes to clarify that it has not made a final determination about whether carpets from India are produced with child labor, forced child labor or forced labor," the Deputy Undersecretary of Labor Sandra Polaski said.

Polaski said that recently India's Carpet Export Promotion Council had hailed the US Department of Labor for removing Indian carpets from the list of products produced by forced labor or child labor in violation of international norms.

He, however, clarified that the US Labour Department has not yet made a final decision on the List of Goods, mandated by the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005.

On September 11 2009, the Department of Labor had released an initial determination in the Federal Register proposing an update to the list of 29 products from 21 countries, including India.

The notice requested public comments for a period of 90 days. Public comments were received and reviewed by all relevant agencies and a final determination was issued on July 20, 2010, in the Federal Register.

The only difference between the 2009 initial determination and the 2010 final determination of the executive
order list was that carpets from India were not included in the final determination, the statement clarified.

The Labor Department received a submission from the Carpet Export Promotion Council during the public comment period that suggested child labor may have been significantly reduced in the production of carpets in India in the formal sector, it said.

"Given that child labor and forced labor often occur in informal production of goods, the Labor Department believes that more information is needed to make a final determination on whether carpets from India should be included on both of its lists," Polaski said.

"A Labor Department contractor is currently undertaking extensive research on child and forced labor in carpet production in South Asia, including India.

"We expect to receive information on the use of forced child labor on both registered and unregistered looms through this research and will wait until that time before making a final decision on the inclusion of carpets from India on the executive order and TVPRA lists," the US official said.

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Lalit K Jha in Washington
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