Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Office of the Press Secretary
September 25, 2012
Fact Sheet: Executive Order Strengthening Protections against Trafficking in Persons in Federal Contracts

More than 20 million men, women, and children worldwide are victims of human trafficking.  Companies around the world are taking steps to eliminate the potential for trafficked labor in their operations and supply chains, and President Obama is committed to protecting vulnerable individuals as government contractors and subcontractors perform vital services and manufacture goods procured by the United States.  As the largest single purchaser of goods and services in the world, the U.S. Government has a responsibility to combat human trafficking at home and abroad, and to ensure American tax dollars do not contribute to this affront to human dignity. 
Building on the Obama Administration’s existing efforts to end human trafficking, today the President signed an Executive Order to strengthen protections against trafficking in persons in federal contracting.  The importance of taking action to end human trafficking in government contracting is a matter of significant bipartisan agreement, and the Executive Order issued today incorporates approaches supported by business leaders, researchers, and members of Congress for how to effectively achieve that shared goal. 
The new Executive Order strengthens the efficacy of the U.S. Government’s zero-tolerance policy on trafficking in persons by directing the Federal Acquisition Regulatory (FAR) Council, working with the appropriate agencies, to amend federal contracting regulations to:
·         Prohibit contractors and subcontractors from engaging in specific trafficking-related activities.  The Executive Order expressly prohibits federal contractors, subcontractors, and their employees from engaging in certain trafficking-related practices, such as misleading or fraudulent recruitment practices; charging employees recruitment fees; and destroying or confiscating an employee’s identity documents, such as a passport or a driver’s license.
·         Apply new, tailored compliance measures for larger contracts performed abroad.  The Executive Order requires that for work exceeding $500,000 that is performed abroad, federal contractors and subcontractors must maintain compliance plans appropriate for the nature and scope of the activities performed.  Such plans must include: an employee awareness program, a process for employees to report trafficking violations without fear of retaliation, and recruitment and housing plans.  Each of these contractors and subcontractors must also certify that neither it nor any of its contractors has engaged in trafficking-related activities. 
The Executive Order also:
·         Establishes a process to identify industries and sectors that have a history of human trafficking, to enhance compliance on domestic contracts.  Once identified, contracting agencies will adopt appropriate safeguards, guidance, and compliance assistance to prevent trafficking in industries or sectors where there is a history or current evidence of trafficking.
·         Augments training and heightens agencies’ ability to detect and address trafficking violations.  The Executive Order stipulates that the Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy will provide guidance to agencies on how to improve monitoring of and compliance with actions to prevent trafficking and will implement improved training for the federal acquisition workforce on policies and procedures for combatting trafficking.
Carlos Lopes urges trade actors to build on political support for the continental trade agenda
ECA Press Release 153/2012
Addis Ababa 24 September 2012 (ECA) -  The second Africa Trade Forum kicked off Monday, with a call to “build on the political expression of support for the continental trade agenda and mobilize broad-based support for actualizing this vision.” The call was made by Mr. Carlos Lopes, Under Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa during the opening session. The Forum is holding on the theme: Boosting intra-African trade and establishing the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) from 24-26 September; and is aimed at looking into ways to enhance Africa’s productive capacities and improve industrial performance.

Speaking to Africa’s diverse trade constituencies including the private sector, academia and policy makers, Mr. Lopes underscored the need to use trade as a means to upscale the current growth rate of 5.2% per annum.  He offered the ASEAN and the EU regions as examples of the potential of intra-regional trade to move countries up the value chain. The two regions stand at 60% and 70% respectively in terms of recorded trade, while Africa’s recorded trade is 10% according to studies.

Mr. Lopes, however, observed that the 10% figure does not account for the informal trade that occurs between African countries, which he said, “can be witnessed on a daily basis at almost every border.”  

Among the issues to be debated this week, he underscored the need to “identify potential obstacles and determine the role of all constituencies in the continental trade agenda." He also stressed the need for trade as a means to overcome vulnerabilities, utilize Africa’s untapped assets, reinforce its middle class and adapt to global trends.

“Africa, however, is not only about vulnerabilities,” said Lopes, highlighting its untapped resources from demographics, natural resources and agriculture. “Africa’s population is increasingly urban and the benefits of agglomeration, including increased domestic demand will work in tandem with internal trade to boost the creation of regional value chains.”

He also stressed that as agriculture and natural resources are the starting points for regional value chains, their proper management continues to be a priority for Africa’s member States.

Mr. Eastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) said the decisions by two AU Summits on boosting intra-African trade this year, including the establishment of a CFTA would accelerate and deepen Africa’s market integration. This, said Mr. Mwencha, would contribute to “the attainment of sustainable economic growth and development, poverty alleviation and improved living conditions.”

“The road ahead will require establishing multi-sectoral focal points and national plans for boosting intra-African Trade at the national level.”  He saidthat plans would need to be drawn by the Regional Economic Communities to contribute to the Road Map for the establishment of the CFTA by 2017.
The opening session was also addressed by Mr. MakonnenManyazewal, Ethiopia’s Minister of Trade and Industry; and Mr. Lamin Barrow, African Development Bank Regional Representative. It is co-organized by the African Trade Policy Centre, which is housed by the ECA and its partners, the African Union Commission and the African Development Bank.

Since the first Forum that was held in November 2011, two African Union Summits have tackled the need to boost intra-African trade, thereby establishing the highest level of political will for this agenda. The January 2012 AU Summit adopted a historic decision to establish the Continental Free Trade Area by 2017. The Summit also endorsed an Action Plan for Boosting intra-African trade and an architecture aimed at supporting the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the decisions.

Later this year, Ministers of Trade will meet jointly with Ministers of Agriculture, on the theme of Boosting intra-African Trade with a sub-theme of addressing agricultural transformation and ensuring food and nutrition security.
Issued by: ECA Information and Communication Service 

Opening of 67th General Debate of General Assembly

As the General Assembly begins the general debate of its sixty-seventh session, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (at lectern) presents to the Assembly his annual report on the work of the Organization. Behind Mr. Ban, on the presidential podium: Vuk Jeremić (left), President of the sixty-seventh session of the General Assembly; and Jean-Jacques Graisse, Acting Head of General Assembly and Conference Management.