US advises East Africa against banning used clothing

Aliyu Othman, Abuja

A vendor sells secondhand cloths at a stall in the busy Gikomba market in Nairobi September 18, 2014. Shaded by ragged squares of canvas, amid choking dust and the noise of hawkers, shoppers in Nairobi's Gikomba market can turn up Tommy Hilfiger jeans or a Burberry jacket for a fraction of the price in London's Regent Street or New York's Fifth Avenue. To match KENYA-TEXTILES/ Picture taken September 18, 2014 REUTERS/Noor Khamis (KENYA - Tags: BUSINESS TEXTILE)

The United States of America has advised East African Nations to stop banning used clothing to protect US jobs and companies.

The US advise to East African countries against banning importation of used clothing became necessary for them to continue to benefit from Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) Scheme.

AGOA, a US Trade Law aimed at significantly enhancing market access to the US for qualifying Sub-Saharan African countries and protection of jobs and companies at home came into effect in 2000.

The Acting Assistant US Trade Representative for Africa, Ms Constance Hamilton, gave the advice in Abuja, Nigeria at a teleconference on the 2017 AGOA Forum, scheduled for. Aug.8-10 in Lomé, Togo.

Hamilton was responding to a question on the ban imposed by the East African Community (EAC) on the importation of second hand products with the aim of growing the indigenous industry.

EAC is an intergovernmental organisation composed of six countries in the African Great Lakes region in eastern Africa.

“One of the things that we were telling the countries of the EAC is that, the AGOA criteria is very clear about not putting in place bans or restrictions on US products.

“That is just one of the criteria. We are giving you this advantage to build your apparel sector.

“ AGOA allows for third country fabric from any place in the world for African countries to produce clothing to send to the US and we encourage that.

“That is what AGOA is about and one of its biggest successes has been in the apparel sector,’’ Hamilton explained.

She noted that it would be undesirable for the EAC countries to say that they are not going to allow US product which is a legal product, to come to EAC.

People out of job
According to her, if EAC turn down used clothing from US, 40,000 people would be out of job in US.

“So what we are saying to the countries of the EAC is, we welcome you to use AGOA to the fullest. However, please do not ban a legitimate American product and hurt US citizens, companies and our employment,” she stressed.

She said that that the argument that the EAC made that used clothing was stifling their ability to grow their local industry was just not supported by the data or the research.

Hamilton added that the used clothing could exist side by side with the local made textile, hence the need for EAC not to ban used clothing coming from U S.

Confidence Okwuchi