The office of the US trade representative (USTR) has announced the initiation of an out-of-cycle review of the eligibility of Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda to receive benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The launch of the review is in response to a petition filed by the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART). The petition files by SMART asserts that a March 2016 decision by the East African Community, which includes Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, to phase in a ban on imports of used clothing and footwear is imposing significant economic hardship on the US used clothing industry.

Through the out-of-cycle review, USTR and trade-related agencies will assess the allegations contained within the SMART petition and review whether Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda are adhering to AGOA’s eligibility requirements. Signed into law in 2000, the AGOA promotes trade and investment in sub-Saharan Africa, including through substantial trade preferences.

In order to qualify for AGOA trade benefits, partner countries must meet certain statutory eligibility requirements, including making continual progress toward establishing market-based economies, the rule of law, political pluralism, and elimination of barriers to the US trade and investment, among others.

US AGOA imports from Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda totaled $43 mn in 2016, up from $33 mn in 2015. US exports to Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda totaled $281 mn in 2016, up from $257 mn in 2015. A public hearing will take place on July 13, 2017 in Washington, DC.