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Apple Is Trying To 'Water Down' Bill Against Forced Labor In China: Washington Post

Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL) is trying to limit the impact of a bill aimed at fighting child labor in China, according to a Washington Post report

What Happened: The lobbying firm Fierce Government Relations hired by the tech giant has had meetings with government representatives in an attempt to “water down the bill,” the newspaper said it has confirmed.

Under the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, U.S. companies are required to ensure that their products are not made by forced labor in the region of Xinjiang, where a lot of companies, including Apple, have manufacturing sites.

It would obligate public companies to report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and could lead to prosecutions over violations.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the act in September in a rare overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 406 votes to 3. The U.S. Senate has yet to vote.

One of the supporters of the bill, Cathy Feingold of the AFL-CIO, said, “What Apple would like is we all just sit and talk and not have any real consequences. They’re shocked because it’s the first time where there could be some actual effective enforceability.”

Xinjiang is an autonomous region, predominantly Muslim, in northwest China. Foreign media outlets have reported that the central government in China has forced more than 1 million people into internment camps in Xinjiang, prompting an international outcry over human rights.

Why It Matters: Apple has come under scrutiny for possibly having ties to Xinjiang forced labor. A report by an Australian government body published in March claimed that around 1,000-2,000 workers from the Chinese region were involved in Apple’s camera production.

Tim Cook, the iPhone’s maker’s CEO, has publicly called forced labor “abhorrent.” He said in a July hearing in front of the Senate, “We would not tolerate it in Apple and would terminate a supplier relationship if it were found.” 

Notably, Apple is not named in the bill, while companies like Coca Cola Co (NYSE: KO), Costco Wholesale Corporation (NASDAQ: COST) and Patagonia are.

Price Action: Apple shares closed at $117.34, 1.10% lower in the regular session on Friday, when the report first came out, and at $$117.11 per share, down 0.2%, in after-hours trading.

© 2020 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

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