[LETTERS] Why Rwanda and EAC partners must not back down on used clothes ban

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Workers at C & H Garments Ltd at Kigali Special Economic Zone in Gasabo District. / File.

Editor,

RE: “Why US is keen to stop ban on used clothes: it is big business” (The New Times, August 19).

From the US perspective, almost $2 billion dollars is at stake here. This is no small money, so it is no wonder Washington D.C is having their envoys attempt to manipulate our leaders. They realize that they might lose $2 billion from the African economies.

Second-hand clothing bans (among other bans, but let's start with this for now) are fundamental to the resuscitation of African textile industries. Not to mention the jobs that would be created, along with the auxiliary economic ecosystems around textile industries, e.g. textile production and processing, garment production and processing, production lines equipment supply, transport and logistics, financing, marketing, design, wholesale, retail, etc.

These are all services, businesses, enterprises which will help boost African economies by creating industries and diversifying employment opportunities.

I hope and pray that EAC, and especially Rwanda, stands strong on this issue and does not back down from banning second-hand clothes.

Our leaders' responsibility is the well-being and prosperity of us Africans, not of the OECD second-hand clothing export racket, please.

Dayo Ntwari

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I am in agreement with the core point made by Joseph Rwagatare – that the American reaction to the ban is really all about business, their own business.

Dayo Ntwari, in his own comment, has helped us to get a handle on the kind of money involved (even if the data is for all OECD countries' exports of second-hand clothes and has no breakdown of exports per country), it is clear that this is indeed big business and that many players and livelihoods are involved at both the export and import sides.

But this is also an example of dumping in the most egregious fashion whose continuance is seriously damaging to our own economic interests. What is more, I have no doubt that a properly cost-benefit analysis would show that the benefits East Africans derive from AGOA are far surpassed by the benefits US actors derive from dumping their used clothes into our markets and the associated costs incurred by our economies from continuing to be America's dump-field.

I therefore hope – given the economic interests involved here on both sides – our governments stand their ground and refuse to knuckle under to the blackmail of American commercial retaliation if we refuse to continue acting as their dumping ground at the cost of giving a fair shake to our own industries.

Mwene Kalinda