US/Rwanda Trade War

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US/Rwanda Trade War

by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.orgHome – Stephen Lendman)

It’s hard to believe but true. America is the world’s largest economy, its 2017 GDP exceeding $19 trillion, its population around 325 million.

Tiny Rwanda’s GDP is around $8 billion, its population about 12 million. 

Total US foreign trade in 2017 was $5.2 trillion – $2.3 trillion in exports and $2.9 trillion in imports.

US trade with Rwanda is minuscule by comparison, a drop in a big ocean – last year amounting to $66 million in exports and $44 million in imports, having virtually no effect on the overall US balance of trade.

Why a trade war with the country too small to matter? The short answer is Washington wants all other nations doing its bidding.

The trade issue with Rwanda is over used clothing, America the leading global exporter, selling $632 million in volume abroad last year.

The Trump regime’s dispute with Rwanda is all about serving US exporters. In July 2016, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda raised duties on imported used clothing – Rwanda reportedly by 20 cents to $2.50 per kilogram.

The key issue with East African countries is over their possible ban on second-hand clothing imports – temporarily or longer-term to help domestic producers.

According to the US Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association, Rwandan and other East African import barriers put thousands of US jobs at risk, a gross exaggeration.

Rwanda exports around $17 million in used clothing to the US annually. According to UN data, East African countries combined import around $150 million worth of used clothing combined. 

It’s hardly an amount to fuss over, especially in a nation like Rwanda where average annual income is around $700 – far below the annual median weekly income in America.

In March, the office of Trump’s trade representative warned it would suspend benefits Rwanda gets under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), letting sub-Sahara African countries export to America duty-free.

Rwanda was given 60 days to end restrictions. It held firm. Trump’s deputy trade representative CJ Maloney ludicrously said “(t)he determinations underscore his commitment to enforcing our trade laws and ensuring fairness in our trade relationships.”

Polar opposite is true under Trump’s America first agenda. Rwandan President Paul Kagame is a US Army Command and General Staff College graduate, a US-installed puppet.

He was involved in the early 1990s Rwandan civil war and 1994 genocide. The Hutu extremist myth against Tutsis persists.

The conflict was all about establishing and solidifying US influence in a part of Africa historically dominated by France and Belgium.

The Clintons continued what GHW Bush began. Both regimes bear full responsibility for ethnic massacres, Kagame serving as a US imperial tool.

Whether he’ll continue resisting the Trump regime over used clothing imports to Rwanda remains to be seen. With enough pressure and threats perhaps he’ll buckle.

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Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman was born in 1934 in Boston, MA. In 1956, he received a BA from Harvard University. Two years of US Army service followed, then an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960. After working seven years as a marketing research analyst, he joined the Lendman Group family business in 1967. He remained there until retiring at year end 1999. Writing on major world and national issues began in summer 2005. In early 2007, radio hosting followed. Lendman now hosts the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network three times weekly. Distinguished guests are featured. Listen live or archived. Major world and national issues are discussed. Lendman is a 2008 Project Censored winner and 2011 Mexican Journalists Club international journalism award recipient.