President Paul Kagame believes that to grow the garment industry in his country, his compatriots should wear clothes made in Rwanda. However, this cannot happen without doing something about the competing multibillion dollar second hand clothes market which comes from the US and Europe. President Kagame threatened to ban all sales of second hand clothes in Rwanda and on March 29th US President Donald Trump said he was going to retaliate against.
In” ‘It’s about our dignity: vintage clothing ban in Rwanda sparks US trade dispute” , the Guardian also argues that beyond the pride of wearing good quality, new and locally made clothes, the governments of China and South Korea “aggressively protected domestic industries before becoming global giants of garment manufacturing.”
What is the economic value of second hand clothes in East Africa and Rwanda in particular? The Economist stated that “In 2016, according to official statistics, Rwanda’s total used-clothes imports were only $18m (against $274m for east Africa as a whole). Its exports under AGOA were just $2m.” The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is a US law which aims at promoting US-Africa. Read more