Australian Senate Committee: Blockchain Could Curb Imports of Forced Labor Goods

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In Brief
  • Blockchain technology was recommended to curb the import of forced-labor goods in a report from the Australian Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence, and Trade Committee.

  • The report concerns a bill amendment that focuses on imports of goods produced by Uyghurs in China.

  • While considering using blockchain technology to promote human rights, Australia is still on the fence about cryptocurrencies.

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Blockchain technology was recommended to curb the import of forced-labor goods in a report from the Australian Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence, and Trade Committee. 

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The committee’s report examined the country’s recent Customs Amendment Bill. The report offered 14 recommendations, ranging from broadening the legislation to bolstering the country’s border security

Among these recommendations, the report also highlighted the importance of tracking the source of goods along supply chains. Along with isotopic labeling and microbiome tracing, blockchain technology could enable companies and governments to better trace their supply chains. 

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The Customs Amendment Bill

Independent Senator Rex Patrick introduced the Customs Amendment Bill in December, seeking to amend the country’s 1901 Customs Act. The amendment focuses in particular on the import of goods produced by the oppressed Uyghur population in China. If the bill is ratified, it would prohibit the import of “slave labor” goods produced by the Uyghurs in China.

“I am very pleased with the outcome of this important inquiry which has delivered strong bipartisan recommendations for action to prevent the importation of goods produced using forced labor,” Patrick said of the report. “Especially in regard to imports from China made using coerced Uyghur people.”

Australia’s relations with China have strained over the past few years. The reasons range from the spread of the coronavirus to Chinese-instituted tariffs on Australian exports, as well as China’s treatment of its ethnic Uyghur population.

Australia on cryptocurrencies and blockchain

While Australia is considering the use of blockchain technology to promote human rights, it’s still on the fence about the technology’s use in finance. Currently, the Australian Senate’s Select Committee on Australia as a Technology and Financial Centre is exploring regulations on crypto assets.

The committee chaired by Senator Andrew Bragg will look at the policy and legal backdrop surrounding cryptocurrencies in Australia. It will also consider approaches taken by Canada, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the European Union. Ultimately, the goal would be the development of a comprehensive regulatory framework for cryptocurrency and digital assets.

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Nick is a data scientist who teaches economics and communication in Budapest, Hungary, where he received a BA in Political Science and Economics and an MSc in Business Analytics from CEU. He has been writing about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology since 2018, and is intrigued by its potential economic and political usage. He can best be described as an optimistic center-left skeptic.

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