On 12 January 2021, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced new measures to ensure that UK companies are neither complicit in, nor profit from, alleged human rights violations in Xinjiang, China. See press release here.

Under the new measures, the UK will review export controls in order to prevent exports of goods potentially contributing, either directly or indirectly, to alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang. This review will determine specific items that will become subject to controls in the future.

Further measures include financial penalties for companies that fail to publish annual modern slavery statements in compliance with the Modern Slavery Act and the issuance of guidance on the risks and due diligence obligations for companies with links to Xinjiang.

The Government will also provide guidance and support for UK public bodies on public procurement rules to ensure suppliers are excluded where there is sufficient evidence of human rights violations in supply chains. Compliance will be mandatory for central government, non-departmental bodies and executive agencies. Furthermore, there will be a Minister-led campaign of business engagement to reinforce the need for UK businesses to take action to address the risk.

The UK Government has announced these measures in coordination with the Government of Canada. See press release from the Government of Canada regarding measures relating to alleged human rights violations in Xinjiang here.

Author

Adeel Haque is an Associate in Baker McKenzie's London office. He is a member of the International Commercial & Trade and Antitrust & Competition practice groups. Adeel qualified in September 2019 and has spent time working in the Firm's Hong Kong office.

Author

Sven Bates is Of Counsel for International Trade at Baker McKenzie. He has spent the majority of his career at the Firm's London office, focusing on international trade compliance, trade remedies and anti-bribery. He has also practiced in Amsterdam and has previously worked for the European Commission and the Shadow Attorney General. Sven has extensive experience in particular in the financial services sector, and has undertaken secondments at a Tier 1 UK bank and the Lloyd's insurance market.