Bangladesh may look for alternative sources if child labour issue not addressed
The local textile and yarn producers may look for alternative sources for cotton if Uzbekistan, which supplies most of the cotton used in Bangladesh, does not stop using child labour in cotton production, said owners of some textile producing plants.
Recently an embargo has been slapped on the use of Uzbekistan cotton due to the child labour issue.
Some world famous retail buying houses of textile and garment products operating in Bangladesh said they will not buy the local products if those are made from Uzbek cotton, as the country uses child labour in cotton production, sources said.
Bangladesh uses more than 60 percent raw cotton of Uzbekistan because that country can supply quality cotton at affordable price, said a textile mill owner.
Talking to The Daily Star, President of Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA) Abdul Hai Sarker said the alternative sources of cotton for Bangladesh might be USA, West Africa, Turkmenistan and some Commonwealth Independent States (CIS).
“But the matter is still at preliminary stage. If the Uzbek government can address the issue on time, there will be no problem for sourcing cotton from that country. Otherwise, the textile and yarn producers will have to look for alternative markets,” the BTMA president said.
He said some cotton producing countries may do brisk business taking the opportunity of this embargo slapped by some renowned buying houses.
Sarker, also the owner of Shohagpur Textile Mills Ltd, said Bangladesh needs a cost effective cotton market to remain competitive in the world market. "The cotton market could be of Uzbekistan or other countries."
He said cotton is now selling at US$0.74-$0.78 per pound compared with $0.59 only five months back.
The cotton price has gone up in the world market as many cotton producing countries are now cultivating other crops for higher profit instead of cotton, the BTMA president said.
Echoing Sarker's views, Managing Director of Royal Denim Abu Jafar Nizami said the issue of looking for alternative sources for cotton is still at an initial stage.
“I think the Uzbek government is very serious about addressing the issue as early as possible as it is a matter of concern for that country,” Jafar said.
"The local textile and yarn producers have already talked with the leaders of the Uzbekistan trade bodies about the situation."
SA Nasir, a local buyer, said the matter is yet to be discussed widely among the local and foreign buyers.
“We will discuss the matter to take a decision soon,” he said.
Nasir said most of the buyers are now on leave due to Christmas. The issue will be discussed widely among all the local and foreign buyers when they will join office, he added.