Rwandan President Paul Kagame has stated that his country will proceed with the ban on used clothes despite threats by the United States to review trade benefits to Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.
He told local media last week that Rwanda will choose to grow its local textile industry at the expense of being a member of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
“This is the choice we find that we have to make. As far as I am concerned, making the choice is simple, we might suffer consequences. Even when confronted with difficult choices, there is always a way,” he said after officially applying to run for a third term in office.
“Rwanda and other countries in the region that are part of AGOA, have to do other things, we have to grow and establish our industries,” Kagame added.
Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and South Sudan decided to fully ban imported second-hand clothes and shoes by 2019, arguing it would help member countries boost domestic clothes manufacturing.
As signatories to the AGOA trade programme which offers them duty-free access to the United States, their decision violates the conditions including eliminating barriers to U.S. trade and investment, among others.
The U.S. Trade Representative said last Tuesday that it was reviewing trade benefits to the three countries in response to a petition filed by a United States body that complained that the ban “imposed significant hardship” on the U.S. used-clothing industry.
U.S. imports from Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda totaled $43 million in 2016, up from $33 million in 2015 while exports were $281 million in 2016, up from $257 million in 2015.