US begins ‘trade war’ with one of Africa’s most exploited countries

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The United States is willing to start a trade war with Rwanda, a small sub-Saharan African country whose GDP is only $9 billion, equivalent to 0.0004 percent of the US economy’s weight.

The conflict began because of Rwanda’s intention to increase local clothing production. To that end, the African country government decided to reduce the import of used clothes from abroad, raising tariffs from the current 0.25 cents per kilogram to US $2.50.

The volume of US exports of used clothes to Rwanda comes down to just $17 million. However, the decision to raise tariffs on second-hand clothing has angered the Trump administration.

In March 2018, the Office of the US Trade Representative warned that Rwanda would lose some benefits under the Growth and Opportunity Act for Africa, which governs Washington’s trade legislation for the continent.

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“President Donald Trump’s resolutions reaffirmed his commitment to enforce our trade laws and ensure fairness in our economic relations,” said Curtis Joseph Mahoney, deputy director of the US Trade Office.

The sub-Saharan country refused to revert its obligations imposed within the 60-day deadline required by the US executive. Rwandan President Paul Kagame told reporters that for him “making the decision was a simple matter”.

“We are in a situation where we have to choose: being a receiver of used clothes or fostering our textile industries,” he explained.

This will now surely push Rwanda towards China who are making significant inroads throughout the African continent. While former colonial masters of Africa, France and the United Kingdom, as well as the United States try to dominate the politics of the continent, China has been willing to do business with all African countries without strings attached. Because of this policy, more and more African countries are choosing to align with Africa instead of Western countries. It is now expected that Rwanda will become even closer friends with China.

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