Background: In a proclamation released by the White House on July 30, 2018, President Trump announced to suspend Rwanda’s duty-free treatment for all African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)-eligible apparel products until Rwanda “comes back into compliance with the AGOA eligibility requirements.” Losing the AGOA benefits means Rwanda’s apparel exports to the United States now will be subject to the most-favored-nation (MFN) tariff rate, which averaged 12.8% for knitted apparel (HS chapter 61) and 10.1% on woven apparel (HS chapter 62).
Back in June 2017, the U.S. Trade Representative Office (USTR) announced to conduct an out-of-cycle review of Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda’s AGOA eligibility in response to a petition filed by the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART). The SMART petition asserts that a March 2016 decision by the East Africa Community (EAC), which includes Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda, to phase in a ban on imports of used clothing and footwear is imposing significant economic hardship on the U.S. used clothing industry.
#1 Is it worth it to ban imports of used clothing in East Africa? Isn’t reusing or repurposing used clothing will be beneficial to the environment, and will promote trade, and provide lower priced to the less fortunate?
#2 Why or why not do you believe that the import ban on used clothing will boost the cotton, apparel, textile, and leather local textile industries in EAC countries and allow for an increase in jobs and economic growth there?
#3 Notably, almost none of the used clothing exported from the US to EAC countries are actually “Made in USA”—they were originally imported from Asian countries such as China, Vietnam, and Bangladesh. Also, most U.S. used clothing exports to EAC were “free giveaways” by U.S. consumers. Is it ethical for SMART to oppose the used clothing import ban so that its own can make a profit?
#4 Most EAC members are the least developed countries. Should they have the rights to reject used clothing from developed countries and start the industrialization process, or should the principle of “free trade” apply to used clothing trade?
#5 If all parties involved in the dispute on the second-hand clothing ban were to come to a compromise, what could that potentially look like and how might we go about it? Is it even possible?
#6 Given the debate on the impacts of used clothing trade on African nations, will you continue to donate used clothing? Why or why not?
[For FASH455: 1) Please mention the question number in your comments; 2) Please address at least two questions in your comments]
Recommended reading: Why is the used clothing trade such a hot-button issue