I very much share the concerns of my constituents about ensuring that cocoa is ethically sourced and sustainable, which is why I am pleased that steps are being taken to promote transparency in supply chains.
The Modern Slavery Act, passed in 2015, requires large businesses to publish an annual statement explaining what they have done to prevent modern slavery in their supply chains. Ministers are also working with Fairtrade to develop “Fairtrace”, a supply chain mapping tool that gives consumers more information about where the products they buy come from.
It is vital that cocoa farmers are paid a fair living income. I welcome Fairtrade’s recent announcement that, as part of a wider strategy to work towards a living income for producers, it is introducing a higher Fairtrade Minimum Price for cocoa and will increase the Fairtrade Premium that goes to farmers.
My colleagues are working to ensure fair trade with cocoa producers continues after we leave the EU. Discussions they are having with cocoa-producing countries aim to replicate the effects of the EU’s trade agreements the UK currently participates in and to continue to provide duty-free access to the UK for cocoa, enabling the exports of these developing countries to flourish.
I am glad that our country also funds the Cocoa and Forests Initiative, which tackles deforestation. Already, governments together with cocoa industries in Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, and Colombia have joined the Initiative and made a public commitment to end deforestation associated with cocoa production.
I hope this reassures you of the UK’s continuing commitment to driving out slavery from supply chains, and ensuring a fair, sustainable cocoa industry.