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Uzbek Cotton Fair Nets $550 Million In Sales

Uzbek schoolchildren harvest cotton in the fields.
Uzbek schoolchildren harvest cotton in the fields.
Uzbekistan is reporting sales of some $550 million worth of cotton and textiles at the two-day International Cotton and Textile Fair held in Tashkent, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reports.

Some 330 companies from 38 countries reportedly sent representatives to the fair and those representatives bought a reported 600,000 tons of Uzbek cotton and textile products on October 12-13.

Uzbek media reported that China's Xinjiang Group of Agricultural Resources and Tianzhan Cotton Exchange, Elma Yarn of Bangladesh, Vinotex of Vietnam, Toeshima of Japan, Arta Tejarat Zamin of Iran, Falcon of Turkey, Miad General Trading of the United Arab Emirates, Tirotex of Moldova, Russia's TransSpecProm, and Bellegprom of Belarus were the major purchasers at the fair.

Many international companies stayed away from the fair: more than 60 worldwide have announced a boycott of Uzbek cotton, which rights groups say is often picked by children in violation of child-labor laws.

There are also many reports of secondary and university students along with some professionals being "volunteered" to harvest cotton instead of attending school or working.

The campaign against purchasing Uzbek cotton has seen increased support among Western companies in recent years with well-known brands such as Burberry, Levi's, H&M, and others publicly vowing to avoid knowingly buy it.

Read more in Uzbek here