Afternoon Coffee: November PMI registers seventh consecutive month of growth; US Supreme Court hears suit on child labor in cocoa supply chain; Medius announces partnership with Changepond

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Economic activity in the manufacturing sector continued to grow in November, according to the latest Manufacturing ISM Report on Business numbers released on Monday. The November PMI registered 57.5%, indicating an expansion in the overall US economy, according to a press release issued by the Institute for Supply Management.

November’s reading was down 1.8 percentage points from October’s reading of 59.3%. However, November’s number counts an expansion in the overall economy for the seventh consecutive month as any reading above 50 counts as growth. The economy has continued to grow after a contraction in April because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The manufacturing economy continued its recovery in November,” Timothy R. Fiore, Chair of the Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing Business Survey Committee, said in the press release. “Survey Committee members reported that their companies and suppliers continue to operate in reconfigured factories, but absenteeism, short-term shutdowns to sanitize facilities and difficulties in returning and hiring workers are causing strains that will likely limit future manufacturing growth potential.”

US Supreme Court hears arguments against child labor in cocoa supply chain issues

The US Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday about whether American chocolate companies should be held responsible for child slavery on African farms that supply the majority of their cocoa, according to the Washington Post.

Six African men seek damages from Nestlé USA and Cargill, alleging they were trafficked out of Mali as children. Their attorneys argue that the companies must be responsible for monitoring their cocoa suppliers in West Africa, where two-thirds of the world’s cocoa is grown and child labor is known to be widespread, according to the article.

The proliferation of global supply chains has led to recurring debates over the responsibility of multinational companies to monitor their far-off suppliers for human rights or environmental standards. US and foreign companies have been sued 150 times over 25 years under a statute permitting foreign nationals to sue in the US for international law violations. Business attorneys said that allowing the cases imposes “heavy legal and reputational burdens on companies that are sued on the basis that they are conducted business with foreign actors accused of committing torts abroad,” the article said.

Medius and Changepond announce partnership for digital transformation of AP Automation

Medius, a cloud-based spend management solution, announced on Wednesday that it is partnering with Changepond Technologies to support digital transformation for accounts payable and finance options.

Changepond is a technology services provider for design and implementation of enterprise software. In a press release announcing the partnership, Medius said the partnership will help Changepond to expand its digital transformation practice which focuses on integrating next-gen solutions including cloud, artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotic process automation. As part of the deal, Changepond will sell and implement Medius AP Automation.

“Changepond’s experience in digital transformation and cloud along with its expertise in working with multiple ERP platforms were key factors in solidifying this strategic partnership to expand the use of Medius AP Automation,” Josh Torres, senior manager, Partnerships & Alliances for North America at Medius, said in the press releease. “Changepond’s experience with advanced automation technologies including machine learning, AI and RPA can help realize new efficiencies in the office of Finance in and around our entire suite of cloud-based spend management solutions.”

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