TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

US suspends duty-free benefits for Rwandan textile imports

Thursday, 29 March 2018 Published: | Sarah McGregor

Source: Bloomberg

The U.S. said it plans to suspend duty-free access to Rwandan textile imports because of the African nation’s refusal to lower trade barriers for American-made clothing and shoes.

The suspension applies to all AGOA-eligible apparel products from Rwanda in 60 days, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said in a statement on Thursday.

The USTR last year began an “out-of-cycle" review to determine the eligibility of Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda to keep their trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act. AGOA, which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 2000, rewards African nations that undertake economic and governance reforms with duty-free U.S. market access.

The USTR’s review was in response to a complaint by the U.S. textile industry over a decision by the three East African nations to ban imports of used clothing and shoes they say are decimating local textile and apparel industries.

The U.S.-based Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association said the ban would impose “significant economic hardship in the U.S. used-clothing industry,” USTR said.

The U.S. exported $330,000 worth of textiles and apparel to Rwanda in 2016 and imported about $460,000. Coffee and tea shipments were Rwanda’s top U.S. export worth $18 million.

Business Achiever

Rwanda has been improving its overall business environment, winning praise for rebuilding since a genocide in 1994 that killed as many as 800,000 people. The country ranked second in Africa, behind Mauritius, in the World Bank’s 2018 Doing Business report, which said it has carried out the most business-friendly reforms in the region in the past 15 years.

The U.S. won’t suspend AGOA benefits for Tanzania and Uganda because “each has taken steps toward eliminating prohibitive tariff rates on imports of used clothing and footwear and committed not to phase in a ban of these products,” the statement said.

President Donald Trump’s “determinations underscore his commitment to enforcing our trade laws and ensuring fairness in our trade relationships,” Deputy U.S. Trade Representative C.J. Mahoney, said in the statement. Trump has repeatedly expressed his push for “reciprocal” relationships with trading partners.

Related News

Opinion: 'America’s petty policy on used clothes for Africa'

Opinion: 'America’s petty policy on used clothes for Africa'

Fostering international development has long been viewed as central to the moral, humanitarian, strategic and security interests of the United States.  In particular, there is one area where the United States has been a leader in development assistance — providing trade preferences to African countries, most of which are low-income countries.  This has been...

17 April, 2018
Rwanda: 'Cotton returns as used clothes'

Rwanda: 'Cotton returns as used clothes'

Contrary to suspicion, Rwanda is not trying to undermine US hegemony in Africa in favour of China by phasing out used clothes. Consequently, President Trump’s AGOA salvo, which will find support in the US Congress, which is deeply suspicious of China, is a ploy to tame African leaders. The US has suspended the duty free status for Rwandan apparel under the African Growth...

17 April, 2018
Rwanda: 'Withdrawal of AGOA benefits at discretion of US'

Rwanda: 'Withdrawal of AGOA benefits at discretion of US'

Rwanda has commended the United States government for having initiated the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and said it was at the discretion of Washington to withdraw AGOA benefits.  This is contained in a statement by the Ministry of Trade and Industry released Tuesday a few days after the US announced the intention to suspend Rwanda from the list of...

03 April, 2018
SMART announces 'successful trade outcome with the East African Community'

SMART announces 'successful trade outcome with the East African Community'

Representatives of the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART) were notified today by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) that a proposed ban on secondhand clothing imports from the U.S. by members of the East African Community (EAC) will not be implemented by four out of the five countries who originally proposed the ban. Kenya...

29 March, 2018
Opinion: Banning second-hand imports doesn't solve East Africa's clothes problem

Opinion: Banning second-hand imports doesn't solve East Africa's clothes problem

Banning the import of second-hand clothes is not the answer to reviving East Africa's textile industry. But the deal to phase out the imports also hands another political score to the US, writes DW's Isaac Mugabi. The move to not ban the sale of second-hand clothing was a relief to petty traders. In 2015, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania agreed on a three-year plan...

05 March, 2018