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Uzbekistan seeks to privatise cotton industry plagued with forced labour and systematic rights abuses

For western brands, Uzbekistan’s cotton privatisation raises red flags, 1 July 2020

The systemic use of forced labour in Uzbekistan’s state-managed cotton sector saw the country blacklisted from lucrative western markets.
In 2017, Uzbekistan’s government began a far-reaching privatisation programme designed to expand the garment sector, eradicate forced labour – and win back western brands.

A cache of leaked records document irregular transactions between one of Uzbekistan’s largest textile firms, the Uztex group, Swiss multinational Rieter and a little known British trade agent.

These records point to a wider problem: lax corporate practices in Uzbekistan, and the complicit role of western jurisdictions, will complicate the country’s re-integration into a global economy where there is growing demand for responsible sourcing.

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