Modern slavery is rife in more than half of all countries, with Asia and Africa posing the greatest supply chain risk, according to a new report.
The Modern Slavery Index, released by UK-based analytics firm Verisk Maplecroft, places China and India among 25 countries posing an ‘extreme’ risk of modern slavery.
Verisk Maplecroft said the UK ‘inched’ into the low risk category because of the recent creation of a government taskforce to train police in identifying and investigating slavery related crimes.
It was one of only four western countries to be given the low-risk rating together with Germany; Denmark and Finland. As a whole, the EU was given a medium-risk rating.
It praised the UK for ‘leading the way’ with its transparency clauses in last year’s Modern Slavery Act. Under article 54 of the act, all companies with a UK footprint and a turnover of more than £36m are required to publish annual reports outlining what they are doing to identify and tackle slavery in their supply chains.
The index, which evaluates the risk to business of modern slavery, was compiled over the last 12 months. It will help companies assess the risk of exposure to modern slavery in their supply chains, said Verisk Maplecroft. The UN estimates 21m people globally are victims of forced labour.
The top 12 countries outside the US and the EU that export garments have all been given a high or extremely high risk of modern slavery. In the global ranking, where first place signifies the highest risk of slavery, Pakistan is ranked number 9, India 15 and China 23.
Raw materials also pose a high risk for countries, according to the index. The 26 leading producers of cocoa beans, and the nine top producers of rice were all given a high or extreme risk of slavery. Two out of three of the 26 biggest producers of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold – all used in technology and automotive parts – featured in the highest 100 countries for risk.
The Democratic Republic of Congo, the world’s largest producer of cobalt, which is essential in mobile phone production, was ranked the 4th worst globally for slavery risk. Cobalt is ‘tipped to become the next conflict material’, the Verisk Maplecroft stated.
More than eight out of 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Kenya and Nigeria – two of its biggest economies – were given either a high or extreme risk.
Earlier this year, the Global Slavery Index, which calculates the number of slaves in each country, estimated there were 46m slaves worldwide, with India, China and Pakistan having the highest number.
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