KAMPALA, Uganda – The sweaty mechanic tossed aside the used jeans one by one, digging deep through the pile of secondhand clothes that are at the center of another, if little-noticed, Trump administration trade war.
The used clothes cast off by Americans and sold in bulk in African nations, a multimillion-dollar business, have been blamed in part for undermining local textile industries. Now Rwanda has taken action, raising tariffs on the clothing in defiance of U.S. pressure. In response, the U.S. says it will suspend duty-free status for clothing manufactured in Rwanda under the trade program known as the African Growth and Opportunity Act.
Similar U.S. action against neighboring countries could follow; Uganda and Tanzania have pledged to raise tariffs and phase in a ban on used clothing imports by 2019.