Three African nations may face AGOA sanctions if Mitumba banned
Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda will face US trade penalties, including losing eligibility for duty-free clothing exports to the US market under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), if they decide to stop import of used clothes from the United States, according to the US State Department.
The three countries have time till next week to take the call.
Washington sees stopping of used clothing imports, known as Mitumba in east African nations, as a blockage of free trade.
“I believe the results of the meeting next week will determine how we proceed,” Harry Sullivan, acting head of the economic and regional affairs unit in the State Department’s Africa Bureau, said, according to media reports from east Africa.
The East African Community (EAC) member states agreed two years ago to impose a phased ban on Mitumba over a three-year period beginning 2019.
Kenya later withdrew from that agreement following US threats. US trade officials maintain that the Mitumba ban violates an Agoa stipulation requiring beneficiary countries to eliminate barriers to trade with the United States.
Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda argued last July that the ban was key to their efforts to develop domestic clothing manufacturing industries, which the Trump administration disputes, saying making inexpensive used clothing unavailable will adversely affect many in the three countries.
A better way of developing domestic clothing industries would entail encouraging middle-class consumers to buy locally made apparel, Sullivan proposed.