Turkmenistan: Turkmenistan to attract foreign investment to expand its cotton industry

07.11.2013

Turkmenistan plans to attract foreign investment to finance its $1 billion program to expand the country’s cotton industry through 2016, a senior Turkmen government official said.

 

Turkmenistan plans to attract foreign investment to finance its $1 billion program to expand the country’s cotton industry through 2016, a senior Turkmen government official said.

"The approved program of developing the textile industry aims to attract a total of $1.056 billion in investment between 2012 and 2016," Textile Industry Minister Saparmyrat Batyrov told an investment conference held recently in Ashgabat. "The industry faces large-scale tasks of further attracting foreign investment and launching new textile factories." 

Turkmenistan, which is lauded by the United States for banning child labor in its cotton fields, is among the world’s top 10 producers of cotton. 

The country had in the past been criticized by rights groups for widespread use of child labor in gathering cotton, but the country's human rights record has improved since President Saparmurat Niyazov, who died in December 2006, signed a decree banning child labor. Jeans with a "Made in Turkmenistan" label are now sold in a variety of Western supermarket chains, including US company WalMart. 

"A presidential decree bans child labor in all sectors and also specifies that children are not permitted to participate in the cotton harvest," the US Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor said in its 2011 report. "The government effectively enforced the section of the labor code prohibiting child labor," it said. 

Since Turkmenistan's independence in 1991, more than $1.3 billion has been invested in building new and modernizing existing textile factories, Batyrov said. This includes $300 million in foreign investment, he said. In his words, the share of raw cotton processed domestically into cotton fiber has risen from 3 percent in 1991 to 51 percent today. 

This year Turkmenistan harvested more than a million tons of cotton.

Cotton is the main cash crop of Turkmen agriculture and one of the main export items of the country, second to natural gas.

Last year, Turkmenistan produced 1.1 million tons of raw cotton.

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