Canada halts imports from Supermax over forced-labour allegations

by BLOOMBERG / pic credit: supermax.com.my

SINGAPORE • Canada has halted imports from Malaysian glove maker Supermax Corp Bhd weeks after a similar move from the US amid allegations of forced-labour practices.

Canada barred additional deliveries from the company’s unit, Supermax Healthcare Canada, to the government until an audit report on the matter mandated by the firm is reviewed by authorities, Public Services and Procurement Canada said in a statement on Nov 10. The audit report is expected by the middle of this month, according to the statement.

Shares of key Malaysian glove makers such as Top Glove Corp Bhd, Hartalega Holdings Bhd and Supermax, which are bellwethers for the industry, have more than halved this year after being among the hottest trades during the pandemic in 2020. The rising pace of vaccinations and allegations of labour abuse at some companies has weighed on the sector’s business outlook.

The Canadian authority said it “is aware of the steps taken recently by the US government against glove maker Supermax” and that the Malaysian firm had hired an independent firm last month to conduct a comprehensive audit of its operations in accordance with the indicators of forced labour of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The US Customs and Border Protection ordered personnel at US ports of entry in October to seize Supermax’s latex gloves based on information that “reasonably indicates” the use of forced labour. Supermax said at that time it had begun work on complying with the ILO standards since 2019, and that it would speed up the process.

Malaysian companies making everything from gloves to palm oil have grappled with intense scrutiny over poor labour practices. The US customs previously banned imports from FGV Holdings Bhd and Sime Darby Plantation Bhd, and last month allowed Top Glove, the world’s largest rubber-glove maker, to resume shipments to the US after a yearlong ban.

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