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BERLIN - German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet has backed plans to introduce a new law which would make companies legally responsible for human rights and environmental issues throughout their global supply chains.

It would mean that larger German companies, with annual revenues of more than €400 million (US$484m), could face fines of up to two per cent of that amount - €8 million (US$9.5m) - if their suppliers step out of line.

Businesses will not automatically be liable for any shortcomings, but NGOs and trade unions will be able to bring lawsuits against German companies on behalf of foreign workers.

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