President Paul Kagame of Rwanda puts forward a choice through the question. “Do you choose to be a recipient of second-hand clothes under threat of Agoa or to grow the textile industry Rwandans deserve?” The President has been an strong advocate of growing Rwanda’s economies and industries. He also believes the focus of African nations should be industrialising.
Agoa (African Growth and Opportunity Act) is a trade agreement between the US and certain African countries such as Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda. This agreement allows these nations to have free market access to the US. The US in return can export used clothes to these countries.
Rwanda in a move to change their economy’s direction has increased taxes on imported used clothes to increase their cost. As a result East African based manufactures will begin to invest in the local textile industry.
These measures have caused the US lobby SMART (Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association) to petition for a review of the eligibility the countries’ Agoa membership.
President Kagame, at a press conference in Kigali, responded firmly to the actions of Smart. “This is the choice we find that we have to make. As far as I am concerned, making the choice is simple. We might suffer consequences. Even when confronted with difficult choices, there is always a way,”
Mr Francois Kanimba, Rwanda’s trade, Industry and East African Affairs minister is confident in the overall outcome. “They might decide to remove the free market access. If they do this some of our companies that looked at that market will be affected, but there is absolutely nothing.”