Zuraida welcomes US CBP working committee with Malaysia

THE Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities (MPIC) Datuk Seri Zuraida Kamaruddin welcomes the US Customs and Borders Protection (CBP) decision to set up a working committee with the Malaysian
Government to address the issue of alleged forced labour.

“This is a move in the right direction to resolve this long outstanding issue that has unfairly plagued local industries, in particular palm oil and rubber,” she said in a statement today.

“I have several key meetings lined up and I am confident an amicable resolution is within reach in the near term. As I have mentioned before, most of the claims of forced labour made by NGOs and other interest groups were not verified by the US authorities, which then resulted in Malaysian palm oil and palm oil products being banned. This is grossly unfair to our local industry,” she added.

Zuraida thanks Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan for securing the commitment from the CBP to set up this working committee during his current trip to the US.

She added that this is pursuant to her working visit to the US from May 11 to 16.

According to her the government has taken various initiatives to monitor and prevent forced labour.

Malaysia has pledged to eradicate forced labour and child labour through ratification of ILO Fundamental Convention no. 29 (Forced Labour) and Convention no.182 (Worst Forms of Child Labour) respectively.

In addition, Malaysia has ratified Convention no.98 (Collective Bargaining), Convention no.100 (Equal Remuneration) and Convention no.138 (Minimum Age) and Convention no.131 (Minimum Wage). These conventions provide guidance in determining Malaysia’s obligations with respect to the protection of the rights of foreign workers.

“At present, Malaysia is also embarking on the BRIDGE Project with ILO, aimed at supporting government efforts at combating forced labour under Protocol 29 (Supplementary Protocol to Convention 29) as a guidance on measures to eliminate all areas of forced labour (prevention, protection of victims and access to justice),” she explained.

Earlier, Bernama reported that the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) has expressed support for the government’s initiatives to explore more business opportunities with the United States (US), including the move to work together with the US CBP in addressing forced labour issues.

“The initiative to set up a working committee with the US CBP to address the issues of forced labour will be able to resolve some of the outstanding withhold release orders (WROs) imposed on some of the Malaysian exporters to the US,” MEF president Datuk Dr Syed Hussain Syed Husman said in a statement here today.

On November 19, 2021, the Government of Malaysia had agreed to ratify the ILO Protocol 29 which is the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930, as well as Malaysia’s participation as a Pathfinder country under the SDG Alliance 8.7 as part of the ongoing effort to eradicate forced labour in Malaysia. –TMR