Uzbekistan, the sixth largest cotton producer, has been facing a boycott by western firms owing to the use of child labour during harvesting. But now it has cracked a new deal to export 300,000 tonnes of cotton fibre to China in a bid to explore new markets. The country has also allowed monitoring of its harvest by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), while the reports of forced labour continue to creep in even this year.
Apart from China, the country has initiated an agreement with Bangladesh to export 200,000 tonnes of fibre in August. The two Asian manufacturing hubs will together account for around five-sixths of Uzbekistan's total cotton fibre exports, which are expected to total around 600,000 tonnes this year.
Uzbekistan officials may finalise the agreement with China at a cotton industry fair in October, which will give a boost to China's share of the harvest from around 15 per cent to 50 per cent, making it the single largest buyer of Uzbek cotton. At the same time, the Uzbek government is keen to increase domestic processing of locally produced cotton to 50 per cent.