Uzbekistan the world's fifth largest cotton exporter reports having exported $1 billion worth of textile products this year. The announcement was made shortly after the United States criticized the tightly-controlled Central Asian country for failing to stop using forced labour in its cotton fields.
Uzbek Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev at an annual cotton fair in the capital Tashkent said that the total export volume are being ramped up every year, this year its total volume of textile exports has reached $1 billlion. Uzbekistan, last year produced 3.3 million tonnes of cotton and expects to reach the same target in 2014 also looking forward to increase its international sales.
At this year's Tashkent Cotton Fair which is held every autumn at the peak of cotton harvesting time in the ex-Soviet republic around 1,000 participants from 40 countries have registered to attend the event. However, rights campaigners accuse the Uzbek government of forcibly mobilizing public employees, including doctors and teachers, and students to harvest what Uzbekistan call its "national treasure".
Ahead of the two-day event, rights activists campaigning against the use of child labour announced that British retailer Tesco had joined more than 150 companies which pledged to stop using cotton grown in Uzbekistan.
In 2008, Uzbekistan had officially banned child labour in its cotton fields but the United States government said recently that the country had made no progress in its efforts to eliminate it. The US Department of Labour in a report said that the national government maintained policies in the cotton sector, which mandate harvest quotas and cause local administrators to organize and impose forced labour on children and adults.
In fact in 2013 a high-level mission from the International Labour Organisation had been invited to observe the harvest by Uzbekistan.
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