- Title: Uganda's dreams of dressing itself stained by global business realities
- Date: 2nd October 2019
- Summary: KAMPALA, UGANDA (RECENT) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF A SECOND-HAND CLOTHING MARKET HANDS OF TRADER ARRANGING CLOTHES VARIOUS OF SECOND-HAND CLOTHES TRADER, ROSE NATABI, ARRANGING CLOTHES AT HER STALL (SOUNDBITE) (Luganda) SECOND-HAND CLOTHES TRADER, ROSE NATABI, SAYING: "The clothes sold in shops here don't last long, the fabric is washed only once and after that, tears! These used clothes are durable. They have already been used but they are better than those made here in Uganda. Clothes made have poor quality, they are washed once, and they get torn. People love used cloths, clothes made here are not good, a child wears it for two months and that's it."
- Embargoed: 16th October 2019 14:36
- Keywords: second-hand clothes AGOA textiles apparels garments used clothes
- Location: KAMPALA, UGANDA
- City: KAMPALA, UGANDA
- Country: Uganda
- Topics: Commodities Markets,Economic Events
- Reuters ID: LVA001AZELAVR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Every Sunday traders converge at the intersection of Luwumu and William streets in Kampala, Uganda hoping to attract buyers looking for second-hand clothes, shoes and other household items on sale.
The clothes have all been discarded as worthless at charity shops or thrift stores in Europe or the United States and are occasionally in such good condition that an original price tag is still attached.
Many here say that apart from providing quality products the business creates an important source of employment for Ugandans.
The second-hand clothes trade is common across Africa, with Ghana, Tanzania, Benin, Uganda and Kenya among the biggest markets.
Rose Natabi has been selling used clothes at various markets in the city for over five years now.
"The clothes sold in shops here don't last long, the fabric is washed only once and after that, tears! These used clothes are durable. They have already been used but they are better than those made here in Uganda. Clothes made have poor quality, they are washed once, and they get torn. People love used cloths. Clothes made here are not good, a child wears it for two months and that's it," she said.
While the traders say the business provides a practical solution for low income earners and a source of livelihood for many, critics argue that the used clothes trade prevents Africa from building its own industry because it's flooded with cheap imports.
Victoria Merab Akinyi, is a fashion designer in the city. She specializes in women's fashion and accessories and is often sought after to stitch clothes for bridal parties.
Akinyi says the used clothes business prevents entrepreneurs like her from fully exploiting their talent or fetching competitive prices for their work.
"If at all second-hand is still banned from the country it would also be amazing. It would help in one way or the other because at times there are things imported into the country, yet they are things we can do as designers as people in the country. Other than just clothing, lots of things are imported and yet these are things that can be produced which makes the citizens lazy. It makes people stay comfortable because they know we shall get this," she said.
The used clothes business is said to be growing in Africa partly because of the U.S. African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which allows African nations to export goods to the United States without duty, but also sees the continent importing second-hand clothes From America.
Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda all increased duties on used clothing and shoes in 2016 to nurture their local textile industries.
But in March 2017, the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART), a trade group representing U.S. used clothing exporters, filed a petition, arguing that the increase violated AGOA.
Though they contested SMART's assertions, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda backed down and agreed to roll back the duty increases.
But Rwanda refused and, as a result, the country's right to export clothing duty-free to the United States was suspended.
"It's surprising that our governments actually got convinced by this particular threat. But in terms of the benefits we know that since the United States has raised alarm they are actually benefiting from us importing second-hand clothes and the benefits goes to a tune of about 151 billion US dollars just from the EAC (East African Community) alone because that's about how much we spend importing second-hand clothes and when you compare that with the amount of money that we actually gain from this particular trade, it's about 231 million US dollars, so it's really the US that is benefiting," said Faith Lumonya, a specialist in trade and investment.
Uganda says it's working on a strategy to boost its cotton, textiles and apparels sector and plans to create about 50,000 new jobs in the process.
(Francis Mukasa, Donna Omulo)
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