Tag Archives: cotton

World Bank denies Uzbek forced-labour accusations

JULY 8 2016 (The Conway Bulletin) — The World Bank denied allegations that it was fuelling forced labour in Uzbekistan after local human rights campaigners complained about the indirect consequences of a loan from the World Bank’s financial arm to an Uzbek-Indonesian textile joint venture.

The complaint targets a $40m loan approved in December 2015 by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to Indorama Kokand Textile (IKT), the Uzbek subsidiary of Indorama TBK, a Jakarta-based textile company.

The IFC said that it gave the loan to IKT because it has verified the company’s labour practices.

“[IKT] can trace its cotton supply to ensure it sources only from areas covered by third-party monitoring against child and forced labor,” IFC spokeswoman Elizabeth Price told Reuters.

IKT also refuted the allegations.

“Indorama Corporation has a strict policy of zero tolerance on use of any form of forced labor,” IKT spokesman Prakash Kejriwal said.

The claimants are three local human rights campaigners and one Uzbek alleged victim of forced labour. They said that this loan would reinforce the system of forced labour in the country.

“The IFC loan to IKT and support to commercial banks in Uzbekistan risks perpetuating the forced labor system,” the claimants said in their statement filed with the IFC.

The loan was issued to finance the expansion of the company’s textile plant in Kokand, east Uzbekistan.

The claim highlights the reputational problems of doing business in Uzbekistan for foreign countries. It will likely direct international attention to the issue of forced labour in the country’s cotton picking industry. Uzpahtasanoateksport, the state owned company responsible for the collection and the sale of cotton, is IKT’s sole supplier.

Since 2009, the United States has banned imports of Uzbek cotton and in 2013 it blocked a shipment of IKT cotton at the port of Los Angeles.

Indorama TBK owns 89.26% of IKT, while Uzbekistan’s Central Bank owns the rest.


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(News report from Issue No. 289, published on July 15 2016)

Fashion firms accuse Turkmenistan of using forced labour to pick cotton

JUNE 10 2016 (The Conway Bulletin) — Several international clothing brands, including German sportswear manufacturer Adidas, Hong Kong-listed Esprit, Sweden’s H&M and Britain’s Tesco, accused Turkmenistan’s President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov of presiding over a system that used forced labour to pick cotton.

The accusation shifts the focus of forced labour in Central Asia from Uzbekistan, which is already the subject of a ban imposed by most Western fashion labels, to neighbouring Turkmenistan, although campaigners have in the past also accused Kazakhstan and Tajikistan of the practice.

The system is a legacy of the Soviet Union when students, their teachers, doctors and other government workers headed out to the plantations for a few weeks in the harvest season to pick cotton.

“It has been widely reported that every year the Government of Turkmenistan forcibly mobilises tens of thousands of public-sector workers and farmers to cultivate and harvest cotton,” the letter read.

“We urge you to take urgent action to end forced labour in the cotton sector of Turkmenistan.”

The letter, published on May 25 by The Cotton Campaign lobby group, was later disseminated by Turkmen opposition websites (June 4). It mirrors other public actions taken by The Cotton Campaign against forced labour in the Uzbek cotton sector.

Sweden’s H&M, one of the biggest high street retailers in Europe, banned Turkmen cotton in December, two years after it imposed a ban on Uzbekistan.

The criticism will sting Turkmenistan. Cotton is its third biggest export, earning around $300m every year.


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(News report from Issue No. 284, published on June 10 2016)


Uzbekistan sells state firms

FEB. 17 2016 (The Conway Bulletin) – Uzbekistan’s government published a list of 89 state-owned companies that it said will sell at least 15% of their shares to foreign investors this year. Last December, the government approved a law that aimed to attract foreign investors. The long list of companies open for investment includes cotton industry giant O’zbekyengilsanoat, telecoms operator Uzbektelekom and Uzbekistan’s postal service.


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(News report from Issue No. 268, published on Feb. 19 2016)


H&M bans Turkmen cotton

FEB. 16 2016 (The Conway Bulletin) – Swedish high street retailer H&M said that it has banned its suppliers since December from using cotton sourced from Turkmenistan in any of their products after allegations that the Turkmen authorities use child labour to pick the harvests. H&M, and other retailers, have previously banned suppliers from sourcing cotton from Uzbekistan for similar reasons. Campaigners accused IKEA of using cotton from Turkmenistan in its various products


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(News report from Issue No. 268, published on Feb. 19 2016)


Uzbek leader cuts cotton harvest

JAN. 18 2016 (The Conway Bulletin) – Uzbek President Islam Karimov said in a speech he wanted to switch some cotton fields to growing vegetables, perhaps a sign agricultural self-sufficiency has become a more important objective for Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan’s cotton harvest will fall to 3m tonnes by 2020 from its current 3.5m tonne crop.


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(News report from Issue No. 264, published on Jan. 22 2016)

Uzbekistan reduces child cotton pickers

NOV. 20 2015 (The Conway Bulletin) – A report by the UN’s International Labour Office (ILO) said the use of child labour to pick cotton in Uzbekistan has reduced although it hasn’t been totally eradicated.

The ILO’s findings are important because Uzbekistan has come under growing criticism for its use of children, medical staff and teachers for picking cotton. Cotton is one of Uzbekistan’s biggest exports, although many Western companies have stopped buying Uzbek cotton.

“The use of children in the cotton harvest has become rare and sporadic,” the ILO said in its report. “Authorities have taken a range of measures to reduce the incidence of child labour and make it socially unacceptable.”

It said that a campaign to stop teachers and medics being used to pick cotton has been less successful.

Activists rank Uzbekistan as one of the worst countries in the world for upholding human rights.


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(News report from Issue No. 258, published on Nov. 27 2015)

Pakistan PM meets Uzbek President

NOV. 17 2015 (The Conway Bulletin) – Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif met with Uzbek president Islam Karimov in Tashkent where the leaders signed deals that should deepen bilateral relations .

The trip was significant for Pakistan because it is looking to boost ties with Central Asia and important for Uzbekistan which needs allies to sell cotton to.

Cold-shouldered by the West, which avoids buying Uzbek cotton because of allegations it is picked using child labour, Uzbekistan has boosted relations with Pakistan as it buys Uzbek cotton for its garments industry.


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(News report from Issue No. 257, published on Nov. 20 2015)


Uzbekistan integrates cotton

OCT. 29 2015 (The Conway Bulletin) – Uzbekistan established a new state company for processing and export- ing cotton, one of its most important commodities. The main mission of Uzpakhtasanoatexport is to integrate the cotton sector.


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(News report from Issue No. 254, published on Oct. 30 2015)


Uzbekistan prepares cotton

SEPT. 3 2015 (The Conway Bulletin) – Uzbekistan is gearing up for its cotton harvest season by preparing the forced mobilisation of hundreds of students, teacher and medical staff, media reported. Cotton is a lucrative export for Uzbekistan. It has previously drawn international condemnation for using children to pick cotton.


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(News report from Issue No. 246, published on Sept. 4 2015)

Iran-Uzbekistan trade increases

JUNE 25 2015 (The Conway Bulletin) – Iran has agreed to boost the amount of cotton and fertiliser from Uzbekistan that it transports along its railway, media reported. Transit routes through Iran, Central Asian states gain access to ports on the Persian Gulf.


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(News report from Issue No. 237, published on June 25 2015)