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.