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Harnessing UK trade and investment to address modern slavery

Project looking at how UK trade and investment arrangements can help address modern slavery in the Indo-Pacific region.

The Indo-Pacific is a region that experiences high levels of modern slavery, where the UK holds important trade and investment interests.

Current legal and policy arrangements addressing modern slavery in supply chains include forced labour import bans, labour clauses in trade deals and investment arbitration mechanisms. However, we need to better understand how and if these work to protect people and businesses against risks of modern slavery.

Policy in this area also needs to consider the role that people with lived experience of modern slavery, vulnerable populations and others who are affected by modern slavery can play in shaping trade and investment practices.

Research led by the University of Nottingham, the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus and Anti-Slavery International will produce evidence and analysis of the role of trade and investment in the Indo-Pacific to manage risks of modern slavery.

This research will aim to inform academic debates in economic, international political economy and international trade law by creating a policy research network on ‘Trade and Investment and Modern Slavery.’

The project will hold a conference to bring together researchers, policymakers, businesses and civil society to share latest research and to develop policy thinking. It will include representatives from affected communities, including survivors of modern slavery and affected Indo-Pacific communities. The conference will be designed to lay the groundwork for creating a network of scholars and practitioners to work on these issues after the project is complete.

The project will then bring together data on how different trade and investment arrangements shape modern slavery risks in the Indo-Pacific. The datasets will focus on how international trade and investment agreements from across the Indo-Pacific handle modern slavery related issues, how the domestic laws and policies relate to trade and investment of countries in the Indo-Pacific, and on government and company responses to allegations of large-scale forced labour in China's Xinjiang province.

Alongside this, the team will produce case studies on China, India, Malaysia and Thailand, considering how modern slavery has been addressed in trade and investment arrangements in these countries, with individuals from communities vulnerable to modern slavery inputting into the process.

Research team: Dr Timothy Masiko, Professor Facundo Albornoz Crespo, Professor Todd Landman, Dr Katarina Schwarz, Dr Oana Burcu, Dr Sabina Lawreniuk (University of Nottingham), Chloe Cranston, Rocio Domingo Ramos (Anti-Slavery International), Dr Jason Pandya Wood (University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus).

This research was funded by an open call on the links between modern slavery and wider laws and policies, run in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council.