THE government should continue with plans to ban imports of second-hand clothes so as to promote domestic textiles despite the risks of losing access to the US market under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a leader of business lobby group has said.
Mr Salum Shamte, the Vice- Chairman of the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) said yesterday that the plan by Tanzania and other East African Community member states to ban second-hand clothes imports came at the most opportune time of promoting textile industries.
“The government and the others in the East African Community (EAC) should maintain its position of banning imports of used clothes and shoes in favour of domestic manufacturing,” he told the ‘Daily News’ in an interview.
The US Trade Representative (USTR) announced on Wednesday a decision to review eligibility of Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda to receive benefits under the act after concerns that the planned ban will impose significant economic hardship on the US used clothing industry.
Mr Shamte said EAC member states should be concerned with protection and promoting interests of their countries and the community just like what the US President, Donald Trump, does with ‘America first’ policy.
The planned move to ban imports of second-hand clothes can not affect the US clothing industry because it is a business involving used clothes, he said adding he did not see the logic behind the concerns by US traders.
He said it is surprising for the US government to reach such a decision that does not intend to promote the growth of local manufacturing in third world countries. The TPSF leader said it should reach time that EAC countries should be exporting clothes and shoes to the US to make AGOA more meaningful to the EAC economies.
He said Tanzania has cotton and abundant hides and skins, sufficient raw materials for the new textiles and leather industries. On his part, Mr Hussein Kamote, an economist, said there is need for experts to review and weigh down the benefits of the AGOA over the establishment of domestic industries.
“We should go far to find out how much we gain from the US market at the expense of having own textile industries,” he said. He said the importation of second-hand clothes may kill domestic industries and widen the problem of unemployment.
Six EAC countries -- Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan proposed full ban of imported second-hand clothes and shoes by 2019, arguing it would help member countries boost domestic clothes manufacturing.