German companies to end trade with Turkish suppliers violating human rights

With the entry into force of a new law in Germany holding companies accountable for human rights and environmental violations in their supply chains, Turkish companies might also fall under the same legislation and be excluded from doing business with Germany in the event of human rights violations in the production of their export goods, Deutsche Welle (DW) Turkish service reported.

The law lists the rules and standards that German companies and their foreign suppliers must adhere to in areas such as human rights and environmental protections.

These include refraining from child labor, complying with occupational health and safety regulations, respecting trade union rights and refraining from the unlawful seizure of property. Suppliers must also comply with the prohibition of discrimination based on ethnic origin, gender, political affiliation or sexual orientation.

Speaking to DW Turkish, Samuel Doveri Versterbye, director of the European Neighborhood Council (ENC) think tank, said a new era that began on January 1 in German-Turkish economic relations will be an important turning point for the Turkish economy.

“The law ties economic relations, investment and trade of German companies to the conditions and criteria of human rights and environmental protection,” Versterbye said. He also said the law is a light version of the 23rd chapter of the European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations titled “Judiciary and Fundamental Rights” and the 24th chapter titled “Justice, Freedom and Security.”

Bilateral trade between Germany and Turkey stands at around €41 billion, and there are more than 7,800 German companies or Turkish firms with German equity operating in Turkey, employing hundreds of thousands of people.

However, if Turkey wants to develop its economic relations with its most important foreign trade partner or even preserve its existing economic relations, it will have to comply with the standards stipulated for human rights and environmental protection by the law that came into force on January 1, according to DW.

Speaking to DW Turkish, lawyer Emre Keki said with this law, German companies are now directly responsible for human rights violations in their supply chains and that this affects all Turkish companies that do business with Germany.

Widespread informality in some business sectors, illegal employment of Syrian refugees and them being paid below the minimum wage, child labor, deficiencies in the recognition of union rights, failure to take adequate measures for worker health and safety, failure to take the necessary steps to protect the environment and the violence used by the security forces against those protesting such violations are some of the most important work-related problems faced in Turkey.

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