East African Community (EAC) Council of Ministers has failed to decide on the ban of second-hand clothes but approved the final draft on cotton, textile and apparels strategy (CTA).
In 2016, Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta and leaders of Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda were meant to decide on whether to adopt their ministers’ position calling for a ban on importation of used clothes.
However, they failed and only Rwanda has implemented higher taxes.
EAC Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed said there are no plans to increase duty on second-hand clothes or a ban but the government is supporting textile industries through reduction of cost of production to make new clothes affordable.
“Second-hand clothes is free trade and we won’t interfere with that. We are making the production of textile manageable locally so that Kenyans can afford to buy new clothes at a lower cost. This way, the mitumba clothes will be phased out automatically as no one can buy them when the new one is cheaper,” he said.
The adoption of cotton strategy by EAC ministers is aimed at making the textile industry competitive not only in the region but globally. It focuses on the value chain, which includes seed production, lint and production of garments.
The council further approved the final draft on leather and leather products sector strategy and its implementation roadmap.
The council, which met at the EAC headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania, further directed EAC partner states to give priority to the implementation of the CTA and the leather products sector strategy.
In an effort to promote the textiles and apparel sector in East Africa, the ministers directed partner states to encourage sustainable procurement of all institutional uniforms, beddings, draperies by state institutions from textiles and fabric industries in the region.
The council directed the Sectoral Council on Agriculture and Food Security to develop a strategy to boost the production of cotton in the bloc.
In their deliberations, the ministers observed that the seed cotton sector was constrained by low and declining production, low productivity, low quality and fluctuating farm gate prices.
Textile mills were further constrained by outdated technology; low spinning capacity, availability of cotton lint, high cost of energy and low skill levels.