The United States has suspended Rwanda’s trade benefits for apparel products, following Rwanda’s increased tariffs on second hand clothing and footwear imports, according to a statement from the US Trade Representative Office.

Apparel imports from Rwanda enjoyed duty-free status in the United States, under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) from 2000. However, since 2016 Rwanda has been increasing custom duties on second hand clothing and shoes, in an attempt to strengthen the local textile industry.

Tariffs have become 12 times higher for used apparel and 10 times higher for used footwear. Although the measure does not target any country specifically, the US is particularly harmed by it, as it is the main exporter of used apparel to Rwanda.

According to a study by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Eastern Africa imports one-eighth of the world’s second hand clothing, which can hinder the development of the local fashion industry.

 

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