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Uzbekistan to phase out state cotton trading monopoly

TASHKENT, Jan 21 (Reuters) – Uzbekistan will gradually reduce the state’s role in cotton and wheat trading, opening up opportunities for private companies in Central Asia’s most populous nation and one of the world’s top cotton producers, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev said on Tuesday.

The Tashkent government has traditionally bought all cotton and wheat from farmers, directing them how much to grow every season and taking care of exports.

But Mirziyoyev said the practice needed to be phased out in order to encourage private investment, a major policy shift for the nation of 33 million.

“Our people might not be ready for it, but if we don’t gradually switch (away from state monopoly) there will never be any (investor) interest,” he told the parliament.

Uzbekistan is the world’s 10th-largest cotton exporter. However, the former Soviet republic plans to gradually cease raw cotton exports in favour of domestic textile production. (Reporting by Mukhammadsharif Mamatkulov; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Mark Potter)

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