Trump suspends duty-free status for Rwanda’s clothing exports


US President Donald Trump has suspended Rwanda’s ability to ship apparel products duty-free to the United States due to a trade dispute.

The dispute concerns Rwanda’s increased tariffs on American used clothing and footwear, the US Trade Representative’s office said on Monday.

The ban, ordered by Trump in a proclamation that followed a 60-day notification period, will maintain Rwanda’s other duty-free benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act.

“We regret this outcome and hope it is temporary,” Deputy USTR CJ Mahoney said in a statement.

He added that the move would affect about $1.5 million in annual Rwandan exports, or only about three percent of the country’s total exports to the United States.

Early last year, weeks after Trump was sworn in as President, a little known American trade association filed a petition with the US Trade Representative.

That seven-page letter set Africa in the cross-hairs of the new administration’s ‘America First’ trade ideology, pitting the world’s largest economy against tiny Rwanda over an unlikely US export: cast-off clothes.

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