The new US. Ambassador to Rwanda has pledged to engage in fresh talks to iron out issues related to US withdraw of Rwanda’s eligibility for apparel exports under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
On April 3rd, Rwanda issued a statement saying it will not change its decision on second hand Clothes.
The new US Ambassador to Rwanda, Peter H. Vrooman who presented his papers of credence to President Kagame today, said part of his agenda is engaging in talks on the issue.
“Each country has sovereign decisions regarding trade. I am new to the issue and I will be looking forward to meeting with Ministers who have that in their domain,” he said.
According to Ambassador Vrooman, Rwanda’s ban on second-hand clothes is rooted in its traditional decisions – unlike in the US where second-hand clothes is part of the daily business.
“In American culture, second-hand clothes is part of daily life but this country has its own tradition,” he said.
He added that in his discussions with Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo yesterday, the two agreed that the AGOA issue is a small part of the trade between the two countries.
“This is a small part of our trade, but we look forward to enhancing many areas where there can be potential collaboration between our private sectors,” he said.
Since its inception in 2000, AGOA has given duty-free and quota-free access to the US market on around 6,000 products from qualifying African countries including Rwanda – with textiles and apparel accounting for some 90% of total exports.
In February 2016, five heads of state in the East African Community – Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda – agreed to bring about a total ban on imports of secondhand clothes by 2019.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Vrooman told KT Press that his government credits Rwanda for being one of the top contributors to peacekeeping operations around the world, and US pledges further support in the area of security.
He also said that under his tenure, his focus will be on youth empowerment and more collaboration between both countries.
Ambassador Vrooman replaced Erica Barks Ruggles who completed her tour of duty as US Ambassador to Rwanda.
Ambassador Vrooman is a career member of US’s senior Foreign Service. He entered the service in 1991.
Prior to his new assignment to Rwanda, he was the Chargé d’Affaires and Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa – Ethiopia.