Bangladesh is planning to import 200,000 tonnes of cotton annually from Uzbekistan in a new multi-annual deal to be finalised shortly.

Negotiations are underway to set its terms in a Memorandum of Understanding between the two governments, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) president Atiqul Islam told just-style.

Once signed, there are expected to be many benefits to the Bangladesh industry, which is heavily dependent on imported cotton yarn and fabric.

"First the garment industry can use fabrics and yarn produced in the local textile mills. Second, local supply of fabrics and yarn will significantly reduce lead time in the export of apparel products," Islam said, adding "garment makers will earn more foreign exchange by exporting locally value added products."

Or simply put, the proposed deal will "ensure a steady supply of cotton to the country's textile industry," with Islam stressing it will free many Bangladesh importers from having to sign cotton sourcing deals each year.

The country's garment and textile industry uses nearly 4m bales of cotton annually (about 800,000 tonnes at US sizes) and the bulk of its cotton is imported from India, the Russian-dominated Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) - which includes Uzbekistan - Pakistan, Africa, Brazil and the US, he said.

However, the deal comes at a time of mounting criticism of Uzbekistan's cotton industry over its alleged use of child labour. The Cotton Campaign has, for instance, alleged that the Uzbek government forces "children as young as 10 to pick cotton under appalling conditions each harvest season."

More than 120 international apparel brands and retailers have already banned the use of cotton from Uzbekistan as part of efforts to stop the country using forced and child labor to harvest its cotton crop.