African Nations are Fed up with the West’s Hand-me-Downs. But It’s Tough to Keep Them Out.


This is a fascinating Washington Post piece on an issue many of us may think little about.

When spring cleaning comes around in the United States, dropping well-loved clothes into a donation box can feel like an act of selflessness. Those stained sweaters, summer camp T-shirts and out-of-fashion shorts will clothe someone needier, right?

It’s actually a little more complicated. Most of America’s castoff clothes are sold by the Salvation Army, Goodwill and others to private companies. Bales of used clothing are then shipped by the container-load, mostly to sub-Saharan Africa, in what has become a billion-dollar industry.

African governments have become increasingly fed up. What many in the West think of as a gesture of generosity, they say, is preventing them from building their own apparel industries. In March 2016, four East African countries decided to raise tariffs on used clothing, in some cases to as much as 20 times the previous rate.

The American used-clothing lobby sounded the alarm, and last year, the Trump administration began investigating whether the four nations were violating an 18-year-old trade agreement with the United States. Under pressure, the East African governments lowered their tariffs to previous rates.

Except Rwanda. Read More


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