President Donald Trump has suspended Rwanda’s right to export clothing duty-free to the United States over Kigali’s decision to increase tariffs on imports of used clothing and footwear, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said.
The move, initially threatened in March and confirmed on Monday, was seen by many in Washington and Africa as foreshadowing how the Trump administration planned to apply its ‘America First’ trade ideology on the continent.
Despite the suspension, Rwanda will maintain its other duty-free benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), America’s flagship trade legislation for Africa.
“We regret this outcome and hope it is temporary,” Deputy USTR C.J. Mahoney said in a statement, adding that the move would affect about $1.5 million in Rwandan exports, or about three percent of its total exports to the United States.
Clare Akamanzi, CEO of the Rwanda Development Board, told reporters on Tuesday that companies producing garments for export were already approaching European buyers.
“We expect some Rwandan companies to be affected,” she said. “We have a plan for them. We have engaged them and we will be helping with the transition to new markets.”
Akamanzi said the government would also assist them financially, though she declined to give details.
On the streets of Kigali, where residents say the increased duties on used clothing imports have driven up prices, condemnation of the U.S. decision was muted.
“The ‘Made in Rwanda’ clothes are expensive,” said Jean-Marie Nsengimana, a hotel worker and father of four. “It used to be cheaper with second-hand clothes. Rwanda should try and negotiate with the U.S.”
Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda all increased duties on used clothing and shoes in 2016 to nurture their local textile industries.
But in March 2017, the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART), a trade group representing U.S. used clothing exporters, filed a petition, arguing that the increase violated AGOA.
Though they contested SMART’s assertions, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda backed down and agreed to roll back the duty increases.
But Rwanda refused and, as a result, joined the ranks of Canada, Mexico, the European Union and China, all of which have been the targets of Trump’s aggressive trade tactics.
Andrew Mold, head of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa’s East Africa office, said he was disappointed by the USTR’s announcement.
“We know the current U.S. administration has a different position on international trade than previous administrations, particularly with countries with which the U.S. sustains large trade deficits,” he said.
“But in this case, the U.S. actually has a trade surplus with Rwanda.”
- Akuapem Poloo granted ¢80k bail
- Murder suspect claims he mistook aeronautical engineer for a pig at Akyem Asuboa
- Akufo-Addo announces nominees for deputy ministerial positions, elevates Charles Adu-Boahen
- NCA to shut down 49 TV stations for operating without license
- Certify your Covid-19 Corruption Risk Assessment or we will use it as toilet paper – Ursula Owusu-Ekuful to CDA
- Contracts awarded to Zoomlion, Frontiers Healthcare Solution, others were in breach of procurement practices – Report
- Social media users react to Akuapem Poloo’s bail
- GES dispels claims that SHS 3 students reopening date has been postponed again
- Police and NCA officers shut down Nana Agradaa’s Thunder TV, Ice1 TV
- Police arrest 40 suspected criminals at Kasoa in Wednesday morning swoop
Doctors are always males; Ghana’s English pupils’ books gender-bias – KNUST research reveals
Ashanti Region NHIS exceeds target; nears 3 million subscribers
NDC boycotts IPAC meeting on review of 2020 general elections
George Floyd murder: Beyonce, Oprah and Viola Davis among stars hailing Derek Chauvin guilty verdict
Why Amakye Dede doesn’t listen to his own music – Amakye Dede
Central Regional Minister pledges government’s support for traders affected by Mankessim market fire
Women representation in Akufo-Addo’s deputy ministerial list unimpressive – Gyampo
Reduction in numbers of ministers commendable – Prof Gyampo
Man found dead on farm at Damongo
Get rich mentality driving youth into illegal mining – Dr Frank Boateng
Owning a home; consider actual purchase and recurrent expenditure
Philanthropist drills mechanised borehole for Saabisi Primary School in Upper East
My legal experience earned me deputy ministerial slot – Egyapa Mercer
‘We won’t accept such stories’ – Family of murdered aeronautical engineer reacts to suspects account
Aeronautic engineer was shot 12 times in the neck and chest; Family rejects account of 3 suspects