Global – Official notification has been received that the import ban on second-hand clothing and footwear mooted by members of the East African Community (EAC) will not now be implemented by four of the five countries that had originally proposed it. Kenya announced last year that it was backing away from the ban and now Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi have followed suit.
Writing in 2018/Issue No. 2 of Recycling International, Alan Wheeler – director of the UK’s Textile Recycling Association and the BIR textiles division’s general delegate – says of the change of mind: ‘It seems as though we now have an important opportunity to liaise with the EAC governments, to convince them to support the used clothing sector and to develop proposals that can create manufacturing standard jobs in this sector within their own countries.’
Dropping the ban ‘is a victory for both the EAC countries and the second-hand textiles industry’, according to the US-based Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART). ‘For the people of the EAC, many rely on second-hand clothing and shoes imports as their only affordable access to quality apparel. For the second-hand textiles industry, it means international imports to the EAC will continue, with more than 190 000 jobs within the United States alone being preserved, as the total exports to the EAC represent roughly 22% of the US industry’s total exports.’
SMART expresses the hope that Rwanda will also reconsider its position on banning second-hand clothing imports.