Ethical Trade & High-Risk Countries

We require all brands that outsource manufacturing to factories in countries where workers are at a higher risk of experiencing labour rights violations and human rights abuses to submit an up-to-date audit.

A list of all high risk countries can be found at the bottom of this article. 

It is a mandatory requirement for all brands manufacturing in factories in high-risk countries to provide an audit.

Please note we do not expect you to finance the audit yourself. It is standard practice for factories to have audits that they can share upon request. 

If you manufacture in a high risk country our policy is to always ask for an audit or alternative social responsibility certification first as preferred evidence. However, if you manufacture in a small scale studio which is not audited then we require you to supply sufficient evidence to ensure the facility is working in line with the ETI base code on labour rights.

If you manufacture in a high risk country and your manufacturer does not have an audit, please get in contact with the team for further guidance.


What is an Ethical Trade Audit? 

This is a type of audit that assess the working conditions of a factory or farm. Ethical trade audits are carried out by third-party auditors who assess the factory or farm against an ethical trade code of conduct based on international labour rights law. Audits aim to provide assurances to brands that their suppliers are complying with international and local labour rights laws as well as health and safety laws. They also provide a framework for improvement, helping to facilitate conversation between manufacturers and brands. 

However, it should be said that whilst audits can provide an overview of conditions in factories and farms, they do not solve the root causes of labour rights and human rights abuses in supply chains.

An exhaustive list of social responsibility audit providers can be found here. The most common audits we receive are:

What do we mean by high-risk versus low-risk countries? 

Different regions and countries will have varying levels of risk when it comes to labour rights abuses e.g. weak legislation, anti-union laws, low pay, overtime, forced labour, child labour, poor health and safety etc.

High-risk countries

High-risk countries tend to refer to countries with weaker labour rights legislation and monitoring institutions, which reduces their ability to comply with ILO standards. Below is a list of key countries with large textiles and garment industries that this could apply to:

  • Bangladesh
  • Bulgaria
  • Cambodia
  • China
  • Egypt
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Malaysia
  • Mexico
  • Myanmar
  • North Macedonia
  • Pakistan
  • Romania
  • Sri Lanka
  • Thailand
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • UAE
  • Vietnam

Low-risk countries

Low-risk countries are not primarily determined by the standard of the labour conditions but by the presence and proper functioning of institutions (trade unions, works councils, labour legislation and labour inspection), which can guarantee compliance with ILO standards, or provide effective access to remedial action when violations do occur.