The East African Community's used clothing policy and international trade law

Authored by: Chantal Thomas

The Routledge Handbook of African Law

Print publication date:  November  2021
Online publication date:  November  2021

Print ISBN: 9780815350682
eBook ISBN: 9781351142366
Adobe ISBN:


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In 2015, East African Community (EAC) countries announced that secondhand apparel would be banned from their markets by 2019, through tariff increases and non-tariff barriers, such as packaging. The EAC countries banned used apparel to protect their nascent garment and textile industries. The measures drew international attention and provoked the ire of the United States. The United States argued that the EAC’s decision would impose significant hardship on the American used clothing industry. Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania backed out, but Rwanda persisted. In March 2018, the United States gave Rwanda 60 days’ notice that it would suspend the country from selling clothes to the United States duty free, a status it enjoys under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). This chapter discusses the pros and cons of adopting such a policy and the international trade law applicable to the policy. Developed states made use of more extensive restrictions on textile and apparel imports, when it was in their interest, than are currently available to developing countries. The ECA phase-out policy and US reaction typify how rich countries and the multilateral system discourage trade restrictive measures that they used to industrialize, when the measures are used by emerging economies.

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