Tag Archives: cotton

Turkmenistan plans to change status of cotton processing plants

JULY 20 2021 (The Bulletin) — Turkmenistan is planning to change the status of its cotton processing plants in Mary, one of its bigger cities, and elsewhere in the country to open joint-stock companies, media reported. It is not clear why the Turkmen government wants to make the change, although the Trend news agency said that it was an important step towards modernising the plants and attracting investment.


— This story was published in issue 493 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on July 22 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

India wants to boost cotton imports from Kazakhstan

APRIL 20/21 2017 (The Conway Bulletin) — At a meeting in the south Kazakh city of Shymkent, Kazakh and Indian officials pledged to increase cooperation in the cotton trade. Indian businessmen said that they wanted to increase the supply of cotton from Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan has been trying to develop its cotton sector over the past few years in a drive to move away from rely too heavily on the oil and gas sector.


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(News report from Issue No. 326, published on April 28 2017)

Cotton sector grows in Azerbaijan

MARCH 30 2017 (The Conway Bulletin) — In 2016, Azerbaijan’s cotton sector created 64,000 jobs, the industry fibre2fibre.com website reported. It was quoting President Ilham Aliyev who also said the industry would create another 200,000 jobs in 2017. Mr Aliyev promised to invest millions of dollars into the cotton industry last year, part of his strategy to wean the economy off oil and gas.


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(News report from Issue No. 323, published on April 6 2017)


IFC to help cotton farmers in Uzbekistan

MARCH 7 2017 (The Conway Bulletin) — The IFC, part of the World Bank, is developing a programme to help cotton growers in Uzbekistan produce better cotton, more efficiently and without forced labour, an industry website reported. Cotton is one of Uzbekistan’s key currency earners but its reputation has been dented over the past few years because of the use of child labour to pick cotton. Many Western brands have boycotted it. The IFC is trialling its programme across 12 farms. If it is successful, it will roll it out to 3,000.


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(News report from Issue No. 320, published on March 13 2017)

Uzbekistan wants to process all its raw cotton

FEB. 8 2017 (The Conway Bulletin) — Uzbekistan wants to process 100% of its raw cotton harvest by 2020, the fibre2fashion.com website reported, signifying a potential step-change in its cotton export strategy.

The fibre2fashion website said that Uzbekistan currently processed only 40% of its cotton harvest and that it would need an investment of

$2.2b to build the processing facilities needed to hit this target. Cotton is one of Uzbekistan’s biggest commodities but it has been stigmatised by its association with child labour. Many Western brands have refused to buy clothing that contains Uzbek cotton.

Over the past few years, though, the UN’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) has said the Uzbek authorities have reduced their reliance on child labour.

And constructing cotton processing plants would also create much needed jobs and help push rural Uzbekistan from a predominantly agrarian society towards a more industrialised one.


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(News report from Issue No. 316, published on Feb. 10 2017)

Euro parliament agrees Uzbek cotton deal

DEC. 14 2016 (The Conway Bulletin) — The European Parliament voted to renew a textile deal with Uzbekistan after dropping the agreement five years ago because of concerns over child labour, drawing anger from human rights groups who said that modern day slavery was being excused.

Under the EU-Uzbekistan trade deal, originally agreed in 1999 but suspended in 2011, tariffs on Uzbek cotton will be dropped. It is a major boost for Uzbek president Shavkat Mirziyoyev who appears to want to improve the country’s image after the death in September of Islam Karimov.

The vote was passed by 564 in favour versus 100 against the motion, with 41 abstentions.

Commenting on the vote, MEP Maria Arena, said: “This consent is the result of the progress and commitments made by Uzbekistan in the fight against forced and child labour. But as adult forced labour remains a strong concern, we will follow the situation closely and if there are serious human rights violations or any regress on these issues, MEPs will not hesitate to ask the Council and the Commission to suspend the entire partnership agreement.”

Last month the European Parliament’s influential International Trade Committee had voted to recommend that a deal was approved.

Uzbekistan has appeared to respond to pressure to clean up its employment issues. This year the UN’s International Labour Organisation monitored the harvest in Uzbekistan and said that while doctors and teachers were forced to work in the cotton fields, there were far few children working.

Cotton is a major cash earner for Uzbekistan. It is the fifth largest cotton producer in the world.

Human rights group, though, were less than impressed. “Adopting this Protocol now sends the wrong message to Tashkent,” Human Rights Watch, a New York-based group, said. “Do members want to be seen by Uzbekistan’s millions of victims of forced labour as the parliament that turned a blind eye to their suffering?”


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(News report from Issue No. 309, published on Dec. 16 2016)

Azerbaijan increases its cotton harvest but analysts doubt ambitious target

NOV. 7 2016 (The Conway Bulletin) — Azerbaijan harvested 50,400 tonnes of raw cotton in 2016, a 66% increase on last year, its statistics committee said.

The rise is important to the Azerbaijani government because with oil prices low and the economy tipping into recession it has revived promises to develop cotton.

In the Soviet Union, before its second oil boom in the late 1990s and early 2000s, cotton had accounted for up to 25% of Azerbaijan’s income. Investment, though, dropped away once oil became the focus.

“Next year, cotton production will lead to the creation of more than 100,000 jobs. As we expand our acre- age, this figure will grow,” President Ilham Aliyev said during a cotton- development conference in Sabirabad, Azerbaijan, on Sept. 17.

Azerbaijani authorities want to expand the cotton fields within three years by 500%, from the current 50,000 hectares. Even if Azerbaijan hits this target it will still be a fraction of the size of the world’s major cotton producing countries. Uzbekistan has around 1.25b hectares of cotton fields.

Economists, though, are sceptical on whether white gold – as cotton is dubbed in Azerbaijan – can fill the gap left by the drop in energy prices. Last year, they pointed out, cotton produced earned just $29m.

Ziya Mammadbayli, a Baku-based analyst, said that Azerbaijan didn’t even have the capacity to pick a bigger cotton harvest without forced labour.

“With low average salaries and without new equipment the has government started to send primary school teachers and doctors to cotton fields to pick it,” he told The Bulletin.


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(News report from Issue No. 304, published on Nov. 11 2016)

European Parliament set to approve Uzbek cotton deal

NOV. 10 2016 (The Conway Bulletin) — An influential European Parliament committee backed a textile trade deal with Uzbekistan that had been moth- balled in 2011 on concerns over the use of child labour.

The vote is a triumph for Uzbekistan and acting-president Shavkat Mirziyoyev as it bestows credibility on the Uzbek cotton sector after years of negative headlines and boycotts by international clothing companies.

The Committee on International Trade will now recommend at a full European Parliament vote in December that a trade deal is made with Uzbekistan.

Reuters quoted Maria Arena, one of the MPs on the committee, as saying that Uzbekistan had improved its labour rights over the past few years.

“The progress made by the Uzbek authorities allows us to move forward and include textiles in our partnership agreement. But we will remain extremely vigilant,” she was quoted as saying.

Last year the UN’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) monitored the Uzbek cotton harvest. It said in a report that there had been major improvements in the way labour was organised and although it was still commonplace for government workers to leave their jobs to pick cotton during the harvest, the use of child labour was far reduced.

Human rights groups, though, were adamant that the European Parliament needed to set an example and avoid a deal with Uzbekistan. In an open letter to the committee sent three days before its meeting, the New York-based Human Rights Watch said that it was because of the European Parliament’s rejection of a trade deal in 2011 that Uzbekistan agreed to open up to UN monitors. It also said that the scenario in Uzbekistan wasn’t as positive as the committee made out.

“We were pleased to note that as a result of international pressure since 2013 children have not been forced to pick cotton on a nationwide scale, and child labour has effectively declined. Yet, local officials reportedly still resort to forced child labour out of a need to fulfil their quotas,” HRW said in its letter.

“Since 2014 we have received steady reports of extortion linked to the cotton harvest.”

Cotton is one of Uzbekistan’s most important commodities. For Mr Mirziyoyev, the timing of the recommendation is also important. He faces a presidential election next month.

He is certain to win this election and become the second post-Soviet president of Uzbekistan after Islam Karimov who died in September, but he still needs to win over popular support. Backing from the European Parliament that child labour is reducing in Uzbekistan and a trade deal can now be made will strengthen his position.


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(News report from Issue No. 304, published on Nov. 11 2016)

Cotton exports rise in Uzbekistan

OCT. 15 2016 (The Conway Bulletin) — At its annual cotton fair, Uzbekistan reportedly signed deals to export finished cotton worth $1.3m, up from $800m in 2015, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported. Cotton is one of Uzbekistan’s most important exports. Many Western brands refuse to use Uzbek cotton in their garments because of its association with child labour.


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(News report from Issue No. 301, published on Oct. 21 2016)

World Bank finances Uzbek textile factory

SEPT. 13 2016 (The Conway Bulletin) – The International Labor Rights Forum published a report corroborating claims that the World Bank could be inadvertently financing a textile factory involved in forced labour practices. The report, which follows a petition in July sent by human rights activists directly to the World Bank, targets specifically an Uzbek-Indonesian joint venture, Indorama Kokand Textile. The World Bank had previously denied the allegations, saying it only deals with forced labour-free companies.


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(News report from Issue No. 296, published on Sept. 16 2016)