The move to implement a ban on imported second hand clothes by East African Community bloc, has shifted the way the regional bloc may interact with the United States.
After the EAC announced restrictions on importing second-hand clothes, the United States considered this move as a violation of the its trade program for Africa popularly known as the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa).
Rwanda,Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and South Sudan – jointly in March 2016 agreed to phase out the importation of second-hand clothes and shoes over three years.
In a joint statement issued during a 2016 summit in Arusha, Tanzania, the EAC presidents said the move would help boost local cotton, textile, apparel and leather industries.
However, this has turned out to be a hot potato for the EAC bloc to swallow. The United States has responded by conducting an “out-of-cycle review” of their Agoa status.
In March this year, a US business association’s petition urged that the three countries be barred from exporting clothing to the US under Agoa’s duty-free provisions.
Briefing media today, Louise Mushikiwabo, Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs said , “the discussion continues, we haven’t concluded yet and we believe there is room to reach an understanding.”