The campaign was launched at the IMF World Congress taking place a short distance away from the United Nations building in Vienna, where asbestos removal work is currently underway.
Speaking at the launch, IMF General Secretary Marcello Malentacchi said: “While most developed countries are racing to remove asbestos from buildings such as at this UN building in Vienna, some countries continue to sell this deadly substance particularly to the developing world.”
Each year it is estimated that 100,000 people die from exposure to asbestos. And yet demand for asbestos appears to have expanded in 2003, enabling world production to increase by 5.4 per cent over 2002.
A significant increase in the use of asbestos is expected to occur in the short and medium term in a number of Asian countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, India, South Korea and China.
Consumption in the Middle East and in Africa, particularly Algeria, Angola, Morocco and Senegal, currently accounts for 20 per cent of the world demand.
“No worker, whether in developed or developing countries, should be exposed to asbestos,” said Malentacchi. “To continue producing this hazardous substance will only prolong the suffering and unnecessarily loss of life.”
“Metalworking unions from around the world have joined forces today to campaign for a global asbestos ban,” said IMF General Secretary Marcello Malentacchi.