Rwanda Stands Up to American Trade Bullying By Tatenda Gwaambuka

imagesHopefully the United States got the memo: Rwanda refuses to be a dumpsite.

The United States of America under President Donald Trump has withdrawn Rwanda’s benefits of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), in what is clearly retaliation for Rwanda’s move to ban American second-hand clothes imports. In a statement, Washington said, “…the President determined that Rwanda is not making sufficient progress toward the elimination of barriers to U.S. trade and investment, and therefore is out of compliance with eligibility requirements of AGOA. Consequently, the President notified Congress and the Government of Rwanda of his intent to suspend duty-free treatment for all AGOA eligible apparel products from Rwanda in 60 days.”

Rwanda has, however, exhibited laudable grit in resisting the pressure from America by arguing that America has every right to make such a decision as it has. Reports suggest the official position from the East African country is, “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 other words, Rwanda is not moved by American pressure! Rwanda is choosing its local clothing industry over unyielding friendships. After all, the country only exported a relatively paltry $43.7 million worth of goods in 2016 while it imported goods of more than $66 million. It becomes clear why America is reacting so drastically: it was on the winning end for so long. Since America decided to pursue anti-globalist policies of nationalism that border on selfishness, it is only fair for it to not attempt to derail smaller countries’ policies of similar framing.

Kenya, Uganda,Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and South Sudan decided to fully ban imported second-hand clothes and shoes by 2019. However, that decision was in contravention of Agoa conditions which provide for removal of barriers against U.S. trade. After years of not benefitting as much as America, Rwanda is justified in sticking to its guns. Hopefully the United States got the memo: Rwanda refuses to be a dumpsite. 

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