Thailand Remains at Lowest Ranking in U.S. Government’s Annual Trafficking Report

Created on Monday, 27 July 2015

The U.S. Department of State maintained Thailand’s Tier 3 ranking, the lowest category, in its annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report released this morning. The ranking accurately reflects Thailand’s lagging efforts to combat human trafficking and may incentivize the Thai government to make greater strides in the coming year.

The Tier 3 ranking, as well as the research and recommendations contained in the report, will be an important tool for governments, international institutions, companies and investors to continue to press the Thai authorities. The current ask of the Thai government is to enact more substantive reforms to end the labor trafficking that can be found in many sectors of Thailand’s economy, including seafood.

There are an estimated 3-4 million migrant workers in Thailand working in manual labor jobs. Several high-profile global media exposés last year brought significant international attention to the problem of human trafficking among migrant workers in Thailand’s fishing industry. Issues associated with Thai shrimp production were among the first investigated but other exported seafood products likely have similar issues as Thailand’s recruitment and labor practices are systemic problems. The European Union issued Thailand an illegal fishing “yellow card” for its failure to adequately monitor its fishing industry in April, which gave the Thai government six months to improve oversight, or face sanctions.

Thailand’s Tier 3 ranking in the 2015 TIP Report is a clear signal to the Thai government that a robust program of actions and series of reforms must be implemented. The Tier 3 status does not automatically induce sanctions, though sanctions are possible in the future. President Obama now has 90 days to determine whether to apply sanctions against Tier 3 governments. The President can block various types of aid and could withdraw U.S. support for loans from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, although he did not impose sanctions on Thailand in 2014.

It is important that government, industry and civil society all work together to push for greater enforcement and prevention of human trafficking and to uphold the rights of migrant workers. All seafood companies should be aware of this issue and be vigilant to ensure that human trafficking, forced labor, and other human rights issues are not present in their supply chains. Greater visibility into supply chains, improved seafood traceability, identification of risks, and engagement with suppliers to find practical solutions are needed.

To learn how consumers and companies can help prevent human trafficking and forced labor in seafood supply chains read our Q&A Document.

Recommendations for seafood buyers in the U.S. and EU can be found in our briefing: Briefing On Human Trafficking And Abuse In Thailand’s Shrimp Supply Chains.

For more information regarding these issues please visit our Human Rights Resources page. To learn more about how FishWise can help companies assess risk in their supply chains, please email