By Elias Hakizimana.
Rwanda religious leader’s forum in partnership with civil Society Organizations in Rwanda have raised concerns over unfair rejection of Rwanda from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) agreement that prevents it to benefit from common wealth trade after the country took a decision of banning second hand clothes.
Members of Rwanda Religious Leaders Forum with Civil society organizations were speaking on October 5, 2018 in Kigali and affirmed that this decision of the United States of America to take Rwanda out of AGOA Declaration was unfair and not justified.
Rwanda’s rights to AGOA agreement were withdrawn because it has imposed huge taxes on second hand or used clothes imports in line with gradually phasing out such imports, in what the government says is an attempt ‘to grow its textile industry and shaping its destiny and future through dignified values of Rwandans.’
Alex Nkurunziza, the Executive Secretary of Rwanda Religious Leaders Forum (RRLF) said that Rwanda faced challenges in making his trade and affairs after being removed from AGOA Declaration.
“It was the right time for Rwanda to give value of its citizens stating that every Rwandan should wear new clothes. Being withdrawn from AGOA does not mean anything and it is unfair. We are here to discuss this and see the relationship this had with the recently inaugurated African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA). We want to see together if AGOA is commercial partnership or a kind of mistreatment of Africans,” Nkurunziza claimed.
“The Government of Rwanda has shown its statement and it is now time for us Civil society organizations to stand up and find how we can address to these Americans who want to mistreat Africans,” He added.
Recently in April 2018, Rwanda’s Ministry of Trade and Industry released a statement a few days after the US announced the intention to suspend Rwanda from the list of countries whose apparel exports enter the American market duty-free.
The decision by the US is a result of a move by East African countries to raise tariffs used clothes to promote the local textile industry.
“The notification by the United States on suspension of duty-free status for Rwandan apparel products under the African Growth and Opportunity Act follows a decision by East African countries to raise tariffs on second-hand clothing imports, in order to promote local manufacturing capacity in garment and other industries,” the statement released by the Ministry of Trade and Industry said.
It added: “AGOA is a commendable unilateral gesture to African countries, including Rwanda, meant to promote trade and development through exports. The withdrawal of AGOA benefits is at the discretion of the United States.”
In 2006, the Heads of State of Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda agreed to take measures to gradually phase out second-hand clothing.
AGOA was originally set to expire in 2015 but it has since been renewed to 2025.
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