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Union Calls for Higher Taxes On Imported Textiles

Panafrican News Agency, 21 November 2000

Nairobi, Kenya - Kenya textile industry officials say the massive importation of second-hand clothes and the dumping of sub-standard textile on the local market was impacting negatively on the country's textile industry.

Speaking Tuesday to PANA, Kenya's Textile and Tailors Workers Union Secretary-General, John Nyandiga, said the phenomenon was greatly weakening and threatening the Kenyan textile industry and the employment and livelihood of millions of Kenyans who depend on it respectively.

Nyandiga then urged government to increase taxes on imported second-hand clothes to ensure a level playing ground, which, he said, "currently favours the second-hand clothes' dealers".

He alleged that powerful and corrupt people in the country operated most businesses dealing with second-hand clothes.

He said Egypt and Zimbabwe have banned the sale of used clothes locally, and that only East African countries were encouraging it, despite its negative impact on the textile industry which supports millions of people.

"I am not against the business, but the government should increase import tax charged on it," he suggested.

To illustrate the adverse effects the importation had on the local textile industry, he said the industry, which previously employed over 65,000 workers now had only 7,000 on its payroll.

The country, he said, presently has only 24 private-owned textile industries, while all the 35 government-owned industries has since closed down, with thousands of workers retrenched.

Nyandiga, in a related development, hailed the Africa Growth Opportunities Act (AGOA), which allows 36 selected African countries to export specific items to the US market duty free.

He urged Kenyan authorities to implement procedures stipulated by the US authorities before the June 2001 deadline in order to enable the country's fraternity to enjoy accompanying benefit.

The secretary also cautioned Kenyans not to be used by foreigners to exploit the AGOA market by rubber-stamping items for export.

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