African countries consume more use clothing than new ones, it’s easy to buy, cheaper to buy and you get original items for less. But this has been a huge hindrance in the development of cloth manufacturing in large scale for this African countries. In 2016, East African Countries which consists of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda put a ban on the importation of used clothing into the country which would start in 2019, the EAC directed member countries to buy their textiles and shoes from within the region with a view to phasing out imports by 2019. This has not been taken likely by the United States government, in June 2017, the US-based Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association lodged a complaint with a US government trade agency alleging that the EAC countries violated Agoa’s terms by deciding to bar imports of used clothing from the US beginning in 2019.
Just in case you are wondering what term they might be violating, lets give you a head start. The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is a United States Trade Act, enacted on 18 May 2000 as Public Law 106 of the 200th Congress. AGOA has since been renewed to 2025. The legislation significantly enhances market access to the US for qualifying Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries. Qualification for AGOA preferences is based on a set of conditions contained in the AGOA legislation. In order to qualify and remain eligible for AGOA, each country must be working to improve it’s rule of law, human rights, and respect for core labor standards.
Recently, Acting Assistant US Trade Representative for Africa Constance Hamilton has said that the United States will continue to work on the issue of a petition challenging the decision by east African countries to ban used US clothing and footwear. A recent public hearing was an initial step to determine the veracity of the petition’s allegations, she said. Hamilton recently responded to a query in a teleconference with media personnel at the US Embassy in Nigeria.
The petition, filed by the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART), complained that the ban by the six countries of the East African Community (EAC) — Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, South Sudan and Tanzania — imposed hardships on the US used-clothing industry and violated rules of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The EAC claims the ban will boost domestic clothes manufacturing in member nations.
Founded in 1932, SMART comprises companies from the United States, Canada, Mexico, South and Central America, Europe, Asia, and Pacific Rim countries. Enacted in 2000, US trade act AGOA enhances market access to the US for qualifying Sub-Saharan African countries.
Expressing concern that the US used clothing sector that employs around 40,000 people is losing market share gradually because of this ban, Hamilton said the AGOA criteria is very clear about not putting in place bans or restrictions on US products.she went ahead to say “So what we’re saying to the countries of the EAC is, we welcome you to use AGOA to the fullest, but please do not ban a legitimate American product and hurt US citizens and companies and our employment on the backs of that,”.
Although the United States does not believe the EAC argument that used clothing is stifling their ability to grow their local industry as the claim is not supported by data or research, “We do believe that these things can exist side-by-side, and we encourage the EAC to look at some of that research and go back and revisit this ban before we have to make a final decision on what we’re going to do as a result of the petition,” Hamilton added. The United States had initiated an ‘out-of-cycle’ review of the trade benefits under AGOA to Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda in June this year as a result of the petition.
How would all this turn out, with a population that is used to convenience and less expensive items, and also the importation of used clothes is a lucrative business for some, can this act really take effect in East African countries? lets keep[ our fingers crossed and see how the events turn out.
Source: Agoa.info, Daily Nation, Fibre to Fashion