The Labor Department has made a final determination to remove Uzbek cotton from the list of products requiring federal contractor certification regarding forced or indentured child labor, DOL announced.
DOL, the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department proposed removing cotton from Uzbekistan from the list in a notice of initial determination published July 31.
Federal contractors that supply products on the list must prove they made a good faith effort to determine if the products were produced under forced labor, and they are prohibited from acquiring goods falling under the product-country pairs on the list.
“After a thorough review of the comments received and information available, the departments have determined that the use of forced child labor in the cotton harvest in Uzbekistan has been significantly reduced to isolated incidents,” DOL said.
When DOL added cotton from Uzbekistan to the list in 2010, forced child labor was “pervasive” in the country’s cotton sector, the announcement says.
But available reporting for the 2017 and 2018 harvest seasons indicates any child labor in Uzbekistan’s cotton sector now happens in isolated occurrences and that the Uzbek government has generally made improvements in investigating and remedying forced labor cases such as children being forced to pick cotton and bring it to school to meet cotton quotas, DOL said.
The involved departments will continue to monitor future cotton harvests while maintaining the list, DOL said.
A U.S. interagency committee in December held a hearing to consider whether to revoke the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) for countries including Uzbekistan, after the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) petitioned the Trump administration to review the country’s eligibility.