Counterpart join US Labor Dept to combat underage labour
A new campaign has launched to protect youth from the worst forms of underage labour in the impoverished West African nation of Burkina Faso, offering educational incentives for children and alternate livelihoods for their families, according to the nonprofit organization Counterpart.
The four year $5 million programme, which is supported by the U.S. Labor Department's Bureau of International Affairs, is expected to directly benefit 1,000 households and prevent more than 10,000 children working in cotton production and gold mines in three western regions.
"Unfortunately, young children are sent to work in cotton fields and gold mines in order to support their families," says Tim Ogborn, Senior Vice President of Programs at the nonprofit Counterpart. "This initiative seeks to break that cycle by providing economic alternatives."
In Burkina Faso – a landlocked country about the size of Colorado and the largest producer of cotton in Africa – almost 40 percent of children aged 5 to 14 are estimated to be in the labor force, many in high-risk industries where forced labor is present. A 2012 U.S. Labor Department report names the cotton and gold mining as sectors of concern.
Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world, ranking 181 out of 187 on the United Nations Development Program's 2011 Human Development Index.
A cornerstone of the program will engage community organizations to strengthen the country's framework for monitoring and tracking child labor.
"Without reliable monitoring and reporting, the country cannot effectively address the child labor practices in the cotton and gold mining industries," says Ogborn. "When in place, this will be a huge step forward and will ensure sustainability of the fight against child labor."
Ogborn notes that improved monitoring in West Africa affects consumers in other countries.
"Today, more customers in the United States, Europe and elsewhere are asking tough questions about the source of materials in the products they purchase. It is important that companies know what is happening in their supply chain," he says.
The program will also raise awareness of the problem among families and employers in Burkina Faso, and will invest in social protection mechanisms for children who have been removed from the work force, and those at risk of entering it.
Counterpart will work in partnership with Terre des Hommes, a well-respected Swiss nongovernmental organization that has been active in Burkina Faso since 1986. The program will collaborate with Burkina Faso's government, private sector and primary cotton union among other partners.
Counterpart will address the key drivers of child labor in three key regions of Burkina Faso—Boucle du Mouhoun, Cascades and Hauts-Bassins. Future expansion of the program could include additional regions, countries and industries.
"We would like to see this model replicated in other parts of Burkina Faso and eventually taken to other countries," says Ogborn.
Counterpart has extensive experience in addressing the immediate, fundamental livelihoods and educational needs of vulnerable populations, particularly in six countries of West Africa, and brings a strong focus on institutional partnerships and strengthening local organizations and communities.
About Counterpart International
Counterpart International is a global development organization that works in partnership to empower people, communities and institutions to drive and sustain their own development. It is currently working in 23 countries.
EU and US agree end to Airbus-Boeing supply chain tariffs
The EU and US have agreed to resolve a 17-year dispute over aircraft subsidies, suspending tariffs on billions of dollars' worth of goods that have plagued procurement leaders on both sides of the Atlantic.
Under an agreement reached by European Commission Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai on Tuesday, the tariffs will be halted for a period of at least five years.
It will bring an end to punitive and disruptive levies on supply chains that have little to do with the argument, which became embroiled in the trade battle. Businesses on both sides of the dispute have been hit with more than $3.3bn in duties since they were first imposed by the US in October 2019, according the EC.
The US imposed charges on goods upto $7.5bn in response to a World Trade Organisation ruling that judged the EU’s support of Airbus, its biggest aircraft manufacturer, unlawful. A year later in November 2020, the EU hit back. The WTO found the US had violated trade rules in its favourable treatment of Boeing, and was hit with EU duties worth $4bn.
In all the tariffs affected $11.5bn worth of goods, including French cheese, Scotch whisky, aircraft and machinery in Europe, and sugarcane products, handbags and tobacco in America. Procurement leaders on both sides of the fence were forced to wrestle with tariffs of 15% on aircraft and components, and 25% on non-aircraft related products.
Boeing-Airbus dispute by the numbers
- The dispute began in 2004
- Tariffs suspended for 5 years
- $11.5bn worth of goods affected by tariffs
- $3.3bn in duties paid by businesses to date
- 15% levy on aircraft and 25% on non-aircraft goods suspended
Both sides welcome end to tariffs
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen branded the truce a “major step” in ending what is the longest running dispute in WTO history. It began in 2004.
“I am happy to see that after intensive work between the European Commission and the US administration, our transatlantic partnership is on its way to reaching cruising speed. This shows the new spirit of cooperation between the EU and the US and that we can solve the other issues to our mutual benefit,” she added.
Both aircraft manufacturers have welcomed the news. Airbus said in a statement that it will hopefully bring to an end the “lose-lose tariffs” that are affecting industries already facing “many challenges”. Boeing added that it will “fully support the U.S. Government’s efforts to ensure that the principles in this understanding are respected”.
The US aerospace firm added: "The understanding reached today commits the EU to addressing launch aid, and leaves in place the necessary rules to ensure that the EU and United States live up to that commitment, without requiring further WTO action."
This week’s decision expands upon a short-term tariff truce announced in March this year. The EC says it will work closely with the US to try and further resolve the dispute, establishing a Working Group on Large Civil Aircraft led by each side’s trade minister.
Airbus last month signalled to suppliers that post-pandemic recovery was on the horizon, telling them to scale up to meet a return to pre-COVID manufacturing levels. “The aviation sector is beginning to recover from the COVID-19 crisis,” said Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury, adding that suppliers should prepare for a period of intensive production “when market conditions call for it.”