The United States has removed cotton from Uzbekistan from a list of products that may have been produced by forced or child labour.
The decision by the Department of Labor (DoL) follows an extensive review since last summer, during which DoL, the Department of State, and the Department of Homeland Security have considered a raft of public comments before making their final determination.
Uzbek cotton was added to the Executive Order No. 13126 (EO 13126) list in 2010, which prohibits federal agencies from acquiring goods, wares, articles, and merchandise that have been mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part by forced or indentured child labour.
The DoL initially proposed removing Uzbek cotton from the list on 31 July 2018.
“After a thorough review of the comments received and information available, the departments have determined that the use of forced child labour in the cotton harvest in Uzbekistan has been significantly reduced to isolated incidents. As a result, this product no longer meets the criteria for inclusion in the EO List,” it said in a filing.
Last month, the Cotton Campaign met with a delegation of Uzbek government officials, with both noting the significant reduction of forced labour in cotton fields but said it continues to be an issue. The two sides agreed on broad areas of further progress that are necessary to achieve lasting reform.