US to end Cameroon’s preferential trade status on January 1, 2020.

birds eye view photo of freight containers

Photo by Tom Fisk on Pexels.com

Earlier this week, President Trump announced to Congress his decision to end Cameroon’s preferential trade status starting 2020 due to alleged human rights violations  – citing “extrajudicial killings, arbitrary and unlawful detention and torture”.

As of January 1, 2020, Cameroon will be removed from the list of countries benefiting under the African Grown and Opportunity Act of 2000 that encompasses 39 African nations.

Part of the move to end Cameroon’s trade status came from reports by Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports of torture and abuse that included overcrowded conditions, torture and delayed trials.

Overall, Cameroon is the US’s 128th largest trade partner with an estimated $413 million worth of goods exchanged last year.

If you believe you will be impacted by this, contact experienced trade attorney David Hsu to explore your options for exporting and importing from Cameroon after January 1st. Phone/text David at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

Tobacco from Malawi subject to detention by US Customs.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Yesterday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a withhold release order on tobacco from the southeast African country of Malawi and other products that contain tobacco from Malawi.
A withhold release order (WRO) means any products from Malawi containing tobacco will be detained by CBP at all of the ports of entry. A WRO was issued after information was collected by CBP that indicates tobacco from Malawi is produced using forced labor and forced child labor.
Many believe a WRO means you cannot import tobacco from Malawi – however, an WRO still allows for importation of tobacco, but importers need to provide documentation that their tobacco and tobacco containing products do not include tobacco from Malwai that was produced using child labor or other prohibitions under US law. 
This most recent WRO is just one of 7 previously issued by CBP this year to prevent the importation of products made using forced labor (which includes convict labor, forced child labor or indentured labor).
If you believe your goods have been wrongly seized by a WRO, contact experienced trade and customs attorney David Hsu for immediate assistance – we have helped many importers and can be reached by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

US-Rwanda trade war?

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Flag of Rwanda via Wikipedia

Unexpected title I know, usually we associate “trade war” with “China”, however, the Trump administration has given Rwanda until May 28th to reduce the tax on imported clothes (the US is a major exporter of second hand clothes to Rwanda – ever wonder what happens to those “clothes and shoes” that are donated to the parking lot donation boxes?)

Background:
In 2016, the East African Community (EAC) composed of Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda increased tariffs on used clothing. Specifically, Rwanda increased the duties by 20 cents to $2.50 per kilogram. This 20 cent increase is at risk of hurting Rwanda’s export benefits under the US African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The AGOA allows certain African countries (like Rwanda) duty-free access to the US market for 6,500 exported products. Since AGOA was passed, duty-free exports to the US from AGOA qualified countries have increased 400% to over 1.0 billion since the law was passed.

AGOA Products:
A full list of those products can be found here.

The Trump administration is threatening Rwanda with losing certain benefits under the AGOA after a compliant was filed last year from the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART), a US-based organization which represents companies that collect and resell Americans’ used clothing. SMART claims the Rwanda tariffs have a big impact on the $1 billion dollar used clothing export industry.

Arguments from both sides:
SMART claims the Rwandan tariffs hurt their business while poor Rwandans also claim the increased prices of second hand clothes in Rwanda impact their ability to buy clothes at affordable prices. However, Rwanda’s government claims an increase in second-hand clothing prices will make locally made Rwanda clothes more price competitive. If the tariffs increase second-hand clothing prices and move people towards purchasing new Rwandan made clothes, the Rwandan government claims more factories will be built, more jobs will be created and the economy will improve.

What will happen?
Check back on May 28th, I will update as soon as I find anything. If anything, I’m expecting China to fill the void. A cursory search on Alibaba for “used clothes in bales” shows lots of offerings targeted for export to East Africa and the general African market.