Row brews as US-based NGO petitions EAC mitumba ban

Row brews as US-based NGO petitions EAC mitumba ban

Kenya may have to shelve its plans to ban second hand clothes imports, commonly known has mitumba – this coming after a US-based lobby group filed a petition with American trade authorities.

The proposed mitumba ban, which was put in motion after East African Heads of State agreed to work on jointly blocking second hand clothes imports in 2015, was aimed at reviving the local textile industry.

A United states based nongovernmental organization called Smart has now thrown a spanner in the works by seeking cancelation of the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) trade deal, accusing the East African Community of failing to honor agreements by banning mitumba imports.

In the petition letter seen by Citizen Digital, Smart accuses the EAC bloc for putting over 40,000 jobs in the second hand clothes industry at risk if the mitumba ban takes effect.

Speaking Monday on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China, Trade Cabinet secretary Adan Mohamed said the group’s stance was misinformed.

“That group (Smart) has filed a petition with the US trade representative to see how we should be reviewed as an out of cycle program because of the actions the East African Nations have taken around the second hand clothes in particular,” Mohamed said, adding: “Our position is very clear, we have continued to allow mitumba clothes to come into our country, we have no ban in place and that position is clear. The petition claims that we have banned those products which is totally untrue, and we are engaging with the US authorities to clarify some of those issues.”

The CS, however, reiterated that Kenya was keen on growing its local textile business through the manufacturing of competitively process clothes.

“And through the transition of market forces we would like mitumba clothes to compete with clothes that are produced within East Africa, within Kenya, and if those products are much more competitive and much more consumer friendly, then of course you will see a reduction in the mitumba business in our country. But it is not going to be through a ban or anything of that nature,” he added.

Manufactures under the export processing zones export over 40 billion shillings worth of textiles and apparels, an industry that has seen the employment of thousands of Kenyans.

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Story By Mumbi Warui
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