Global Cotton Trade-On the Example of the Uzbek Cotton Trade
Keywords:Uzbekistan, cotton, forced labor, trade, global supply chains
Cotton is one of the most important cash crops globally, with around 25 million metric tons produced annually. Uzbekistan is one of the top cotton exporters, though its industry has been controversial due to alleged forced labor practices. This paper examines Uzbekistan's cotton industry within the context of the global cotton trade. It provides an overview of global cotton production and trade, analyzes the structure and practices of Uzbekistan's cotton sector, assesses reforms and remaining forced labor concerns, and discusses implications for ethical sourcing and trade policy. Findings indicate that while the Uzbek government has taken steps to curb state-orchestrated forced labor, further action is needed to align with international labor standards. As clothing brands and retailers face scrutiny for sourcing Uzbek cotton, adopting policies to ensure traceability and avoid complicity with labor abuses remains imperative.