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Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has insisted that Rwanda will proceed with its plan to phase-out importation of second-hand clothes despite threats from the U.S. that the move could lead to a review of his country’s eligibility for duty-free access to the American market. President Kagame recently made the remarks while addressing a news conference moments after submitting his nomination papers to the National Electoral Commission (NEC).


Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART); an association of textile companies in the United States of America (USA); members argue that the decision by the East African Community (EAC) to ban imports of used clothing and footwear is imposing significant economic hardship on the USA’s used clothing industry. The petitioners argue that the ban directly contradicts requirements that AGOA beneficiaries work towards eliminating “barriers to United States trade and investment” and promote “economic policies to reduce poverty”.

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has, as a result, initiated a review of the eligibility of Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania to receive benefits under AGOA. The EAC nations are one of the most important markets for U.S. industry’s used clothing exports with direct American exports to the EAC member countries totaling approximately $24 million in 2016. U.S. imports under AGOA totaled $43 million in 2016, up from $33 million in 2015 while exports were $281 million in 2016, up from $257 million in 2015. –

It is no doubt the 2nd hand market and process poses as a resolution for poverty, as cheap clothes for those that can not afford, when in reality it is short handing not only our local based creatives but cutting off all the potential employment that could be reaped from their developments.

Those that fall short from employment are not only tailors, but it extends to markerters, pr consultants, beneficiaries of advertisements, graphic designers, delivery men, shop assistants and much more. The 2nd hand market is not only an enemy of our fashion creatives, it is an enemy of our economy and our livelihood.

Unfortunately, west African leaders are not as hard as that of East Africa, hence why this year Accra Fashion Week is setting trends for Ghanaians to put down 2nd hand clothes and designs, most which are outdated and rejected by westerners. Would you go cheap pretending to be instyle or would you be upgrade and buy quality made in Ghana whilst building your economy? You decide.

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