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In July 2019, The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) was pleased to return to Malaysia and Thailand to host a regional roundtable and two sets of governmental dialogue sessions in the respective countries. The 2019 series of events, hosted alongside the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB)‘s Leadership Group for Responsible Recruitment, and the Responsible Business Alliance’s Responsible Labor Initiative, with support from International Organization for Migration, International Tourism Partnership, and International Labour Organization, has been being built on the successful regional roundtables and governmental dialogues in 2018 in Thailand and Malaysia, and signals continued dialogue with both countries.

On July 16th, more than 180 delegates from brands, suppliers and recruitment agencies gathered together for constructive open dialogue on transitioning to responsible recruitment and the key roadblocks involved, from the perspective of Malaysia, as a major receiving country for migrants across South East Asia. Attendees from a wide variety of sectors, including electronics, manufacturing, and palm oil, engaged in interesting, lively discussion, demonstrating their commitment to building an ethical recruitment market in the country. We were also pleased to welcome M. Kula Segaran, Minister of Human Resources for Malaysia, to the stage, who shared recent policy updates that Malaysia has undertaken to improve ethical recruitment of migrant workers, and to reduce their vulnerabilities to exploitation.

During the trip, the CGF and partners also had the opportunity to engage in insightful dialogue with both the Malaysian and Royal Thai Governments on responsible recruitment and collective solutions, building on the engagement established in 2018. An array of government representatives from ministries including International Trade and Ministry (Malaysia), Human and Resources (Malaysia), Labour – Dept of Employment (Thailand), and Foreign Affairs – Department of International Organizations (Thailand) were in attendance to discuss all aspects linked to labour migration. Both governments shared their progress in the area. Representatives from the Malaysian Government spoke about their Private Employment Agencies (Amendment) Act 2017, while representatives from the Thai Government gave updates on their National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights and recent amendments to their Royal Decree on Management of Foreign Workers and what this meant for employers. Both meetings concluded with next steps on how government and the collective private sector initiatives can work together on paving the way forward for an ethical recruitment market in Southeast Asia.

The executive summary of the Malaysia Roundtable Event will be available shortly.