Uk Lobbies Want Used Clothes Export Banned

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Kenya should ban mitumba imports to promote local textile industries.

Each year Kenya takes over $42 million (Sh4.2 billion) worth of second-hand clothes from the UK — the world’s second largest exporter of used garments.

But continuously some non-governmental organisations are asking at what cost?

This year Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda were supposed to ban all imported used shoes and clothes but under pressure from the US government. Rwanda, which went ahead with the plan, was recently removed from the Agoa beneficiaries list.

The used-goods market of course has its benefits. Kenya imports about 100,000 tonnes of second-hand clothes a year, providing the government revenues from customs duties and creating tens of thousands of jobs. The market offers quality used clothes to Kenyans at a fraction of their manufacturing cost.

Some estimates in the UK say as much as 80 per cent of all unwanted clothes British residents donate each year end up in second-hand markets in Africa.Kenya is the third largest market after Ghana and Benin.

The used-goods market of course has its benefits. Kenya imports about 100,000 tonnes of second-hand clothes a year, providing the government revenues from customs duties and creating tens of thousands of jobs. The market offers quality used clothes to Kenyans at a fraction of their manufacturing cost.

But the cost to Kenyan manufacturers has been immense. Because the average cost of a second-hand garment in Kenya is between five and 10 per cent of that of a new garment, local industries cannot compete.

Earlier this year, KRA chairman noted that sectors with the local market such as textile and furniture have been abandoned yet they could be major economic drivers.

“We have a competitive edge but most of these have been left to the Chinese. Unless we have a dynamic strategy in industrialisation, we will always be defeated before we even start,” he added.

In rescinding the ban, Kenyan officials argued that more than 60,000 jobs in the textile industry were under threat.

With a poverty rate of 35.6 per cent, the reality is that many Kenyans have to pinch their pockets to clothe themselves.

The used clothing market allows millions of Kenyans to buy clothes for as little as Sh20. These price points do not exist in the clothing produced by the domestic textile industry

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