Second hand clothes.AFP

Donald Trump’s administration has suspended duty-free exports on clothes to Rwanda after the East African nation imposed tariffs on US imports of second-hand clothing and footwear which it blames for harming the local textile industry.

“The president’s action does not affect the vast majority of Rwanda’s exports to the US”, a statement by the office of the US trade representative read.

The clothes imports account for 3% of what Rwanda exports to the US under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) and are valued at $1.5m (£1m).

Rwanda’s position had been widely adopted by East Africa’s states but Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda dropped their stance fearing retaliatory action that would lead to loss of access to US markets via Agoa.

Rwanda clothing imports have so far dropped by a third.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame has said the duties were needed to boost local producers and prevent his country from being used as a “dumping ground” for used American clothes.

The trade dispute can be traced to 2016, when Rwanda increased import duties on used clothing from the United States from $0.25 to $2.50 per kilogram.

Used clothes, many of which start as US charity donations, have long been a staple of wardrobes in a country that still bears the scars of a horrific genocide 24 years ago. Yet their abundance and popularity have stalled development in the local clothing industry.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame has said the duties were needed to boost local producers and prevent his country from being used as a “dumping ground” for used American clothes. He has proposed banning imports by 2019.

The restrictions have upset traders in the United States.

The Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association, which represents companies that sell used and recycled clothing, filed a complaint with the US government in 2017 arguing that the trade barriers put thousands of American jobs at risk.

The US warned Rwanda in March that it could lose the right to export duty-free apparel if it failed to roll back its tariffs.

Critics of the US decision say the government has overreacted to the tariffs on used clothing, which affect just $17 million in US exports a year and target a country where average annual income is around $700.

Rosa Whitaker, a former US trade official who worked on African issues under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, told CNN that the Trump administration was threatening to suspend the trade benefit out of a “warped sense of America-first.”

“The Trump administration is making a symbolic statement rather than a substantive statement,” she said. “I see America picking trade battles, but I was surprised we would have time to pick one with Rwanda. We are talking about such a small amount of trade.”

Whitaker, who helped design AGOA, said the move goes against the original intent of the legislation.

“One of the whole points of the agreement was to help African countries to develop an apparel manufacturing base, because we understood that apparel is the first entry point into manufacturing,” she said.

In Rwanda, the government has pledged to help exporters affected by the trade spat by compensating them for new US taxes.

Source:BBC,CNN Money

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24 COMMENTS

  1. Now this is leadership by Kayame I always talk about …in this has been going on for a while, Kenya and other East African countries were afraid to go into a tit for tat war with mighty US but the small country of Rwanda has stood up to Trump. These second hand clothes from Europe and US sent to Africa is big business for them in developed countries at the expense of local industry.
    In Zambia, they even import second hand underwear for men and women…

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    • Kagame has balls that many African leaders don’t. That’s why he has led Rwanda from a genocide recovery to one of the fastest developing countries

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    • Just Sayin’ – this is why Bo Ibrahim said that the difference between Lilongwe and Zurich is just leadership and governance…African needs leaders, not figureheads or beggars

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    • That’s how countries should be run, with solid balls.
      Not going to ask a guest that “mudala lend me kaloba so I pay Euro bond for me”.

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    • Now this is leadership by Hazaluza Hagain! You are so ignorant little boy you know nothing about who is who and what the details and background of Rwanda is. Keep quiet tribal hooligan and bully. HH will never be a president! He can be a Section leader, or a Ward Chairman or Namwala Councilor of Paramount Chief of Namwala. He is so Childish that he does not even know how to win an election! I pity his tribal supporters!

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  2. The body of Aldof Hitler was never recovered. The NAZIS had reached a high level of science knowledge and there is a good chance that Trump is a GMO of Hitler only that this time he is armed with nuclear weapons.
    The blackman is about to be exterminated.

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    • Christ was black, do not ever under estimate the might of the one and only Jehovah. Those that try to touch his children are always exterminated. Why do you think only a small fraction of original Egypt only exists in the southern Tip of the nation of Egypt? There is nothing new under the sun. Watch Jehovah and Jesus go to work.

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    • Nzelu – we are talking about people who actually existed in flesh and blood not your fairy tales from your silly book of your slave masters.

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    • Exactly. Lubinda Habazoka’s friend and role model. Last time I read an article in which Lubinda habazoka was admiring Kagame’s policies.

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  3. Trade wars rages on. This is a battle between an elephant and a rat, when you compare USA’s trade volume with Africa and what Rwanda exports to American market . As rightly observed the revenue is just a paltry $17m loss to America compared to American total trade volume with Africa which runs in trillions of dollars annually.

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    • Trump is on a war path with everyone he wants to increase duty on Chink goods to 25%, he has locked horns with Germany, Canada..he is not taking prisoners; he will eventually shut down the US economy even though he promised all this in his campaign.
      US is playing dirty they want to dump their goods but don’t want us to export there.$17 million may not be alot for Zambia and Kenya but for a small efficient country like Rwanda it goes a long way….I wish we had more leaders of Kagame’s ike. Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania are quiet yet they export more in turns of volume to the US and are cowering in the background to see how it pans out.

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    • Zambia has been playing lip-service with RSA for the last 10 years ever making SA economy stronger….I mean am talking of a trade imbalance of 90% toward SA…forget SADC and COMESA trade agreements if Zambia forced Shoprite to buy locally especially farm produce it would a great boost to our farmers but again we go back to lack of leadership and that figurehead will have in State House farting everyday.

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    • Eddy Lulu – what can you say about giving Chinese firms multi million Defence textile contracts for ZAF, ZA, ZNS uniforms when Mulungushi Textile is rotting in Kabwe.

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    • Eddy lungu , as JJ asked , the contract to supply imported ZAF uniforms was about $65 million , import tender given to lungus mates….

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    • Spaka like lilo – these are the small things these dingbats fail to see and how they had up to the bigger picture and bloated budget. I mean if Lazy had the heart for the country like Kagame he would have pumped all that money or quarter of it into Mulungushi to do the job but all of it was externalized…but the utterly lazy sausage is too dull and corrupt.

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  4. Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania have leaders with money in American enterprises. That is so easy to see, if Only the would stand up and be kagame though being questionable, shows leadership. Viva Paulo.

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  5. This person called Sharon. Are you really à woman. Maybe you are but just too obsessed with HH and decide to hide your affection by playing hate speech .Its all that seems to be on your mind. Dont you have anything else of importance to talk about ? Please ask HH out on a date, you have admired him long enough.

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  6. As the article, and many other news outlet point out, that most of the second hand clothes that are imported in Africa were given as charity to some organizations so that they can distribute them to the orphans, poor and the needy people across the globe. Unfortunately these people sell them to us Africans. I request all God Fearing people to stop buying these second hand clothes, as we are promoting the oppression against the orphans, poor and the needy. These clothes belong to them not us my fellow brothers and sisters.

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