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European furniture firms buy products made using Belarusian forced labour: report

29.11.2022 01:00
Some of Europe’s largest furniture companies, including Germany's Polipol, continue to buy products from Belarus despite sanctions imposed on the country in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and many of those products are made using forced labour, according to a report by London-based NGO Earthsight.
A prison where people were detained in Zhodino, about 60 km of the Belarusian capital Minsk, after protests sparked by the countrys contested presidential election in August 2020.
A prison where people were detained in Zhodino, about 60 km of the Belarusian capital Minsk, after protests sparked by the country's contested presidential election in August 2020.Photo: EPA/TATYANA ZENKOVICH

An investigation carried out by Earthsight revealed that furniture imports from Belarus have not halted, and that some are linked to penal colonies, the Politico news service has reported.

It said Belarus’ ties to Russia mean that it is subject to sanctions, which include a ban on imports of timber.

The world’s biggest furniture company, Ikea, has faced accusations that it was not only sourcing some of its furniture from Belarus until June this year, but that some products were made using forced labour in Belarusian jails, according to Politico.

Ikea has since stopped sourcing products from Belarus, Politico reported.

Earthsight says that other furniture companies are still using Belarusian timber, including Austria’s XXXLutz and its subsidiary POCO, Germany’s Porta Möbel/Möbel Boss, Hoffner and Roller, and France’s BUT, Politico reported.

None of these companies make products in Belarus but they buy from companies that do, according to the Earthsight report, as cited by Politico.

Germany's Polipol named among biggest buyers of Belarusian products

The report says German company Polipol, which had a turnover of EUR 500 million in 2021 and employs some 8,500 people, is one of the biggest buyers of Belarusian timber products.

Polipol rents space and sources chipboard from state-owned Ivatsevichdrev, which uses forced labour in penal colonies, the investigation revealed, according to Politico.

Polipol’s furniture is sold by hundreds of retailers across Europe, among them XXXLutz, the Continent’s second-largest furniture company by sales and which has more stores than Ikea, Politico reported.


Source: politico.comtvp.info