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US threatens EAC over ‘old’ clothes ban
July 9, 2017, 11:10 am

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame has insisted that Rwanda will proceed with its plan to phase-out importation of second-hand clothes despite threats from the US that the move could lead to a review of his country's eligibility to duty-free access to the American market.

United States has warned the East African Community (EAC) members Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania that their eligibility to trade with the US is under review, following the region's move to phase out the importation of used clothes. The US review could see the six-nation EAC bloc that also includes Burundi, Kenya and South Sudan lose duty-free access to the American market under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

The Rwandan president said that the EAC decision to restrict importing of second-hand clothes and ban the trade completely by 2019 was based on a choice between continued importation of used clothes or developing the local textile industry.

The move follows a petition by the US trade association over the EAC's decision to restrict importation of second-hand clothes and ban the trade altogether by 2019.

If US President Donald Trump, who last week accepted the plea from US clothing trade association to expel Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda from AGOA, endorses the petition, he risks opening a new trade war with Africa.

Tanzania Private Sector Foundation's (TPSF) executive director Godfrey Simbeye said the decision to impose restrictions under AGOA would have little effect on his country's economy since there were few industries taking advantage of the market. According to him, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda in 2016 only exported approximately $45 million worth of textiles free of charge to the US market, up from $33 million a year before. US on the other hand exported to EAC the goods worth $276 million in 2016 and $252 million during the previous year.

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