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Rwanda: is nearing a ban on the import of used clothing, despite threats by the USA

Rwandan president Paul Kagame underlined that Rwanda will pursue its project aiming at the progressive abolition of the import of used clothing in spite of threats by the United States, which warned that this decision could lead to the revision of the eligibility of the country to have access to tax-free goods on the American market.
President Kagame made his statement at a press conference, moments after having submitted his application as a candidate with the National Election Board (CEN).
Indeed, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and South Sudan decided to completely forbid the import of used clothes and shoes by 2019, arguing that this measure would allow the member countries to stimulate their local clothing industry.
However, members of the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association - SMART), an association of companies in the textile industry in the United States, expressed that this decision of the Community of east Africa (EAC) forbidding the import of used clothes and shoes imposes considerable economic hardship on the American industry of secondhand clothes. The petitioners assert that this ban is in direct contradiction with the requirements of the law, according to which the beneficiaries of the law must work towards the elimination of barriers to the growth and the potentialities of Africa (AGOA).
Consequently, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) launched the revision of the eligibility of Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania and the advantages they receive from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The AGOA trade program provides eligible sub-Saharan countries duty-free access to the United States on condition they meet certain statutory eligibility requirements, including eliminating barriers to U.S. trade and investment, among others.
U.S. AGOA imports from Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda totaled $43 million in 2016, up from $33 million in 2015, according to the USTR. U.S. exports to Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda were $281 million in 2016, up from $257 million the year before.