Import From China Business

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A practical guide for starting a small business

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Child Labor Background

Child Labor is a complex issue around the globe because the view on Child Labor differs by country.  Child Labor is actually accepted in certain parts of the world where poor child work long hours in dangerous work environments for a chance to escape poverty.  At a time when children should be in school, they have given up their childhood due to child exploitation.  As an importer, not only do you need to recognize the Child Labor laws in the country of origin but you will also need to know the Child Labor laws in the country of destination.  The negative publicity of importing products from a country which promotes child labor can be devastating to your import business.  Many famous brands from large companies have fallen into this trap.

Child Labor

International Child Labor

The International Child Labor Organization is responsible for setting the child labor standards around the world.  Its philosophy is that children under a certain age should not be engaged in any type of economic activity.  The age is set at 15 years old under the International Labor Organization's Convention 138 which was adopted in 1973.   The standards do not cover children helping out in family businesses or family farms.  Convention 138 also states that in countries where the education and economic systems are under developed, the minimum working age is 14 years old.     

Child Labor in Apparel Sector

Underage children working in sweat shops and turning out apparel has received a lot of media attention.  So much so that many businesses and industries are proactively setting their own code of conduct regarding the purchase of clothing from manufacturers which engage in child labor.  The children are often working in small subcontracting shops or homework environments where guards control the entry and the exit of the workers.   

Child Labor in Agriculture

Children in this industry often work alongside of their families planting and harvesting crops.  They are also exposed to dangerous chemicals and machinery.  Examples of child labor in agriculture include children picking coffee beans in Central America or doing labor in sugar fields of Brazil.

Child Labor in Domestic Service

Children are employed as servants cleaning and cooking for their wealthy employers.  Almost 90% of the children engaged in this domestic service are girls.  They receive minimal food and housing as part of their work.  Their food source is sometimes table scraps.  The exploitation of child labor in this environment can lead to sexual abuse.  Children servants are still in existence by the millions in South Asia, Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia. Although child labor is less prevalent in developed countries, they can still be found in parts of North America and Europe where young teens are employed to serve the wealthy.  They are often hidden from the neighbors making it difficult for the authorities to prosecute.

Child Labor and the Importer

As an importer who is interested in starting an import business, you need to carefully check out your supplier's workers.  Make sure that child labor is not exploited.  If you find out only after you started doing business with the suppliers, your troubles can be quite exasperating.

Real Experiences!

Aabas L., Import to Morocco

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