US government lifts ban on imports of cotton from Uzbekistan

The Department of Labor has announced the decision

The United States acknowledges the progress Uzbekistan has achieved in the fight against child labor, the Dunyo Information Agency reported.

For the first time since 2011, the U.S. TDA Report has mentioned Uzbekistan as a country that achieved «significant progress» in this field. Before that, the country was on the list of countries that close their eyes to the problem of child labor. The first serious changes in the country’s attitude towards the issue were noticed by the U.S. Department of Labor in 2018.

The agency has also removed Uzbek cotton from the List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor. This was the only legal obstacle preventing U.S. entities from importing cotton and products made of cotton from Uzbekistan.

«This year the government of Uzbekistan killed forced labor in the country’s cotton industry completely. The system based on total state control over the gathering of the cotton is gone and any attempts to force anyone to take part in harvesting now is considered a crime. Given this progress, we have removed Uzbekistan from our list of goods produced by forced labor,» said Thea Lee, the deputy head of the U.S. Department of Labor.

The agency also noted that Uzbekistan is still fully committed to increasing the role of machines in cotton harvesting. Moreover, American officials reported gradual growth in wages for the cotton pickers. These pickers and their employers are now negotiating the terms of cooperation independently with no intervention from the government.

In March 2022, Cotton Campaign also stopped its boycott of Uzbek cotton. 

This year more than 1.9 million took part in the harvesting of cotton in Uzbekistan. About 605,000 of them were workers from the textile industry and farmers, 1.2 million locals and seasonal workers and 64,900 workers from other Central Asian countries.

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