Monday, June 26, 2017

PICTURES: Is clothing the only second-hand item imported by EAC!!!!!!!! #Uganda #Tanzania #Kenya #Rwanda @USAmbUganda

In February 2015, the 16th Summit of East Africa Community (EAC) Heads of State sitting in Nairobi received and adopted a report by the EAC Secretariat on banning the importation of second-hand clothing, bags and shoes. The Summit issued a joint statement directing the Council of Ministers to study modalities for the protection of regional textile and leather industries by banning the importation of second-hand clothes and shoes.

In March 2016, the 17th Extra-ordinary Summit of the EAC Heads of State at Arusha unanimously decided to ban the importation of second-hand clothing, bags, shoes and other leather products by 2019.  The argument was that the move would boost local industries, create jobs, and instill a sense of pride as opposed to putting on someone else's used and discarded clothing. They further argued that the practice was degrading, undermining the pride of Africans, and a source of being looked down upon by the West.

A few days later, Uganda's Minister of Finance, Matia Kasaija proposed increasing the rate of the environmental levy imposed on second hand clothes from 15% to 20% of the cost, insurance and freight (CIF) value. Around the same time, Kenya's Uhuru Kenyatta met with the Association of Mitumba (second hand clothes) Importers in Kenya where he guaranteed to them the continuous flow of Mitumba uninterrupted.

In June 2016 Uganda's Minister of Trade, Amelia Kyambadde told visiting EALA members that Uganda had decided to go slow on the ban on used clothes.  She further disclosed that the ban would be a gradual process as the country develops its textile and leather industry.

In September 2016, the USA Ambassador, Deborah Malac paid a courtesy call on the Speaker of Parliament and warned her that the proposed ban on importation of second-hand clothes was posing a risk on the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) arrangement.

In May 2017,Kenya took a bold stand when it declared that it would not ban importation of second-hand clothes.  It argued that much as it would make efforts to develop and promote its local textile industries, it would allow the continued importation of the much more competitive and consumer friendly second-hand clothes.

During the same month, the EAC Secretariat presented a report in which it was proposing a tax rise on importation of second-hand clothes from 25% to 50%.  In the same report, it was disclosed that the region was spending US$ 350M on importation of second-hand clothes.

In June 2017, the parliaments of Tanzania and Uganda voted to approve a budgetary provision doubling import duties on second-hand clothes from US$ 0.2 per Kg to 0.4 per Kg.  On its part, Rwanda increased import duty from US$ 0.2 per Kg to US$ 2.5 per Kg.

Consequently, the office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) has disclosed that it was reviewing the eligibility of Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda for AGOA.  In 2000 the AGOA was signed into law. It is meant to promote trade and investment in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Under AGOA, duty free treatment is given to certain products as well as the preferential treatment of certain textiles and apparel articles.  During 2016, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda combined exported a total of US$ 43M worth of goods to the USA duty free under AGOA.  Kenya alone exported US$ 394M worth of textiles and apparel to the USA under AGOA.  In return, the USA exported to the EAC region US $281M worth of goods under AGOA.

USTR's review of Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda's eligibility for AGOA has the risk of making them lose out on duty free access to the USA market. The other eligibility requirements are good governance, human rights, democracy, and rule of law.  AGOA requires the President of USA to terminate the designation of a country as a beneficiary if it is not meeting eligibility requirements.  Currently, the US President is the no nonsense, Donald Trump.

In August 2015, the parliament of Zimbabwe unanimously blocked the government's move to ban the importation of second-hand clothes.  It described the move as being insensitive to the poor and that it would make the ordinary people to go naked.  In 2015 alone, Uganda imported 1261 tonnes of worn second-hand clothing from the USA.  Second-hand clothes are a source of livelihood for millions of impoverished residents of EAC.  Millions are employed and dressed by this sector since local textile industries are almost non-existent.  Even a number of the rich and the elite policy makers stealthily encroach on these second-hand clothes because of their superior quality.

The governments of EAC earn a lot of the much-needed tax revenue from importation of the second-hand clothes.  Even the millions of Museveni's refugees can only be properly clothed in these second-hand clothes. It is not only the second-hand clothes, bags and shoes that are sustaining the economies of the EAC States and the livelihoods of its residents. Second-hand cars, furniture, electronics, construction machinery, farm machinery, industrial machinery, motorcycles, bicycles, toys, beddings, military equipment like tanks, artillery pieces and war planes are all second-hand.

The policy makers only console themselves by claiming that the military equipment is 'overhauled'.  How come they don't lose pride by importing military equipment that was used during World War II, the Middle East conflicts, the conflicts in the Balkan and Afghanistan? The Anti-riot police vehicles that were used by Apartheid South Africa have been imported by Museveni and modified with mounted machine guns (MAMBAS) for use to suppress Ugandans.

What about the tanks from China that were used to crash to death student protesters at Tienanmen Square! The same used military equipment imported by African governments is responsible for the displacement of their nationals into refugee camps and risky and treacherous journeys into death traps across the Sahara and the Mediterranean Sea.

Maybe they want to protect industries of cheap and low quality textiles from their new colonial master, China.


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