March 29, 2018 / 6:13 PM / in a month

Trump to suspend duty-free treatment of clothing imports from Rwanda

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he will suspend duty-free treatment of clothing imports from Rwanda under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) because the African country has imposed barriers to U.S. exports of used apparel and footwear.

In a letter to the U.S. Congress, Trump said Rwanda’s duty-free status for apparel will end in 60 days if no corrective actions by Rwanda are taken.

The AGOA trade program provides eligible sub-Saharan countries duty-free access to the United States on condition they meet certain statutory eligibility requirements, including eliminating barriers to U.S. trade and investment, among others.

The action followed a petition by the U.S. used clothing industry last year alleging that planned bans by Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda on used clothing and footwear harmed the industry.

But the United States is continuing AGOA benefits for Tanzania and Uganda because both have taken steps toward eliminating used clothing tariffs and committed not to phase in a ban of these products, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said in a separate statement.

“I commend Tanzania and Uganda for taking corrective steps to address the United States’ concerns,” Deputy U.S. Trade Representative C.J. Mahoney said in a statement. “We have and will continue to work with Rwanda to resolve this situation.”

Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by David Alexander and Sandra Maler

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