A coalition of major US importers of textiles and clothing has issued a stern warning to Uzbekistan
that it must cease using what they charge is child labor in cotton fields. Uzbekistan is heavily
dependent on its exports of raw cotton and cotton products, which account for 20 percent of its
exports and 15 percent of its gross national product.
A letter to the president of Uzbekistan signed by the American Apparel and Footwear
Association, the National Retail Federation, the Retail Industry Leaders Association and the US
Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel, said that Uzbekistan must take “decisive and
immediate actions to end the use of forced child labor in its cotton fields.”
Members of the coalition are among the leading purchasers of cotton products from Uzbekistan.
While no direct threats were made, the coalition said its member companies are firmly committed to
sourcing in countries that are respectful of human and workers’ rights.
The coalition pointed out that a number of North American and European companies and retailer
brands have already taken measures to exclude Uzbek cotton from their merchandise because of child
labor abuses, and warned “more companies would likely follow suit if sweeping improvements are not
August 19, 2008