Second-hand clothing exports to Uganda under threat

Six-nations of the East African Community (EAC), including Uganda, plan to ban imports of used clothes in the next two years to create domestic demand for locally made textiles.

Photo by: Reuters File Photo
Photo by: Reuters File Photo

A vendor sells pineapples next to a second-hand stall at the Gikomba market in Nairobi, Kenya on September 18, 2014.

Many people in East Africa buy second-hand clothes sent from Europe and the US.

The six-nations of the East African Community (EAC) - Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and South Sudan - are fed up with the onslaught of secondhand items they receive from Western non-profits and wholesalers.

They have decided to totally ban imported second-hand clothes and shoes by 2019, arguing it would help member countries to boost their domestic clothing manufacturing industries.

Following the move, the Office of the US Trade Representative announced the initiation of an out-of-cycle review of the eligibility of the countries to receive benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) after concerns that the planned ban will hurt the American clothing industry.

However, Hillary Ssebandeke, a local clothes seller from Uganda, says that what the customers want is what really matters.

“People here like the used clothes because they are rare ... you can’t find two people having the same shirt ... new clothes are like uniforms ... you will find several people wearing almost the same thing,” she told TRT World.

 TRT World's Leon Solomon reports from Uganda.