Rwanda’s Decision on Second Hand Clothing Remains Unchanged

Zambian President Edgar Lungu excited by a made in Rwanda jacket given to him during a recent state visit to Rwanda

Rwanda government will not change its decision on second hand Clothes following the United States’ withdraw of the country’s eligibility for apparel exports under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

A statement released by government of Rwanda this afternoon states that AGOA is a commendable unilateral gesture to African countries including Rwanda, meant to promote trade and development through exports.

However, it adds that: “The withdrawal of AGOA benefits is at the discretion of the United States.”

“The notification by the United States on suspension of duty-free status for Rwandan apparel products under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) follows a decision by East African countries to raise tariffs on second-hand clothing imports, in order to promote local manufacturing capacity in garment and other industries.” Said a statement signed the Minister of Trade.

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.

But the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART) earlier this year filed comments requesting that the Trade Policy Staff Committee launch a review of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) benefits for Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda.

For many years Rwandans have been dependent on second hand clothes imported from Europe and the United States – mainly due to their affordability hence keeping traders in business.

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.

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