AGOA Textile and Apparel Benefits Suspended for Rwanda
President Trump issued July 30 a proclamation suspending the application of duty-free treatment under the African Growth and Opportunity Act for all apparel products from Rwanda. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative notes that Rwanda remains eligible to receive non-apparel benefits available under AGOA and that this suspension does not affect the vast majority of Rwanda’s exports to the U.S.
One of the AGOA eligibility criteria is making continual progress toward establishing a market-based economy and the elimination of barriers to U.S. trade and investment. According to USTR, the East African Community announced in 2016 plans to phase in a ban on imports of used clothing and footwear by 2019. USTR states that while EAC members Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda subsequently took actions to reverse their policies (and thus continue to receive full AGOA benefits), Rwanda insisted on retaining its tariffs and U.S. efforts over the past two years to address this issue have been unsuccessful.
The proclamation thus suspends Rwanda’s duty-free access to the U.S. for apparel products until Rwanda comes back into compliance with the AGOA eligibility requirements. USTR states that the president opted to take this step instead of terminating Rwanda’s status as an AGOA beneficiary and supports continued engagement with the aim of restoring market access for used apparel.