(Reuters) The rise of robots in manufacturing in Southeast Asia is likely to fuel modern slavery as workers who end up unemployed due to automation face abuses competing for a shrinking pool of low-paid jobs in a “race to the bottom”, analysts said on Thursday.

Drastic job losses due to the growth of automation in the region – a hub for many manufacturing sectors from garments to vehicles – could produce a spike in labour abuses and slavery in global supply chains, said risk consultancy Verisk Maplecroft.

More than half of workers in Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines – at least 137 million people – risk losing their jobs to automation in the next two decades, the United Nations’ International Labour Organization (ILO) says.

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