TASHKENT, Oct 11 (Reuters): Uzbekistan, the world's second largest exporter of cotton fibre, will cut exports of the commodity by more than a third to 530,000 tonnes from 2008, a senior government official said.
The Central Asian state, the world's sixth largest cotton producer, aims to develop its own textile industry, thus cutting exports of the "white gold", Foreign Economic Relations Minister Rustam Azimov said late Monday at an international cotton fair.
"We plan to process domestically 51 per cent of all our cotton fibre by 2008, this is why our export volumes are set to fall to 530,000-550,000 tonnes a year," he said.
In line with official data, Uzbek cotton fibre exports are set to rise to 860,000 tonnes this year from 840,000 tonnes in 2004. Exports are expected to fall sharply after 2007 when they will total 770,000 tonnes.
Azimov said Uzbek textile factories would process 32 per cent of the nation's total cotton fibre output this year. He said that in the next three years the government planned to invest around $1.5 billion in some 100 textile projects in Uzbekistan. "Talking about the prospects of our domestic cotton fibre output, we will achieve a level of 1.2 million tonnes this year and do not plan further increase in the future," Azimov said.
Uzbekistan's Agriculture Ministry said last week it expected cotton fibre output to rise to 1.25 million tonnes in the 2005/06 season from 1.15 million tonnes in the 2004/05 season.
The ministry also forecast the raw cotton harvest at 3.8 million tonnes this year, which would be the highest in 15 years. Last year's crop weighed in at 3.53 million tonnes after a paltry harvest of 2.86 million tonnes in 2003.
The nation of 26 million people remains reliant on cotton exports. Official data show that cotton fibre exports fetched $876.1 million last year, or 18.1 of all its hard currency earnings.