LONDON — Modern slavery is most prevalent in North Korea and other repressive regimes, but developed nations also bear responsibility for it because they import $350 billion worth of goods that are produced under suspicious circumstances, according to research released Thursday.

The Global Slavery Index estimates that 40.3 million people worldwide were subjected to modern slavery in 2016, with the highest concentration in North Korea, where one in 10 people lived under such conditions. The report was compiled by the Walk Free Foundation, an anti-slavery campaign founded by Australian billionaire Andrew Forrest.

The goal of the index is to pressure governments and companies to do more to end modern slavery by providing hard data on the numbers of people involved and the impact it has around the world.

For example, modern slavery in developing nations puts jobs at risk in the U.S. and Western Europe because domestic goods compete against imports produced through “exploitation of the worst kind,” Forrest said.

“By unraveling the trade flows and focusing on products at risk of modern slavery that are imported by the top economies, it becomes clear that even the wealthiest countries have a clear and immediate responsibility for responding to modern slavery both domestically and beyond their borders,” the report said.


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