International trade

If you import any materials or products from overseas, outsource work abroad or use foreign manufacturers, it's ethical best practise to consider the working standards of all the people involved in the production and sourcing of your product and raw materials. Increasingly, this is also what customers expect and want. This guide introduces you to:

  • What to consider
  • How to do it


What to consider

You need to look beyond just the people working for you - investigate the standards of your suppliers and their suppliers in turn. To meet ethical standards, you need to ensure that all the people involved in your product and its raw materials are paid a fair wage, are of decent working age - typically 16 or over, are working reasonable hours in safe, hygienic workplaces, and are not subject to discrimination or abuse. Read up on the UN Global Compact and the World Trade Organisation's set of guidelines to check standards.

  • Investigate your suppliers and their suppliers
  • Ensure that all the people involved in your product are working to decent labour standards
  • Compare standards with the UN Global Compact and World Trade Organisation guidelines


How to do it

Ensuring that everyone involved in your business and its products is working in conditions that meet ethical standards is not always easy. You need to make thorough inspections of the factories and businesses you source from or use overseas, and ideally have someone working there that you can trust to maintain sufficient standards. If that's not possible, contact Oxfam to find out which ethical certifications are the best to look for when choosing suppliers and businesses in other countries.

  • Make inspections of factories and business
  • Employ someone to check standards abroad
  • Speak to Oxfam to find out about ethical certifications

Talk to UK Trade & Investment who can offer a range of support and will put you in touch with your local trade advisor. Visit their website for a wealth of practical information and a guide to what High Growth Markets present the best opportunities

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