The Negative Economic Impacts of Secondhand Clothes in Africa

Secondhand clothes, discarded at thrift stores from overseas and then shipped thousands of miles to another continent, is a very lucrative business. Kenya alone imports about 100,000 tonnes of secondhand clothes a year, providing the government revenues from customs duties. Until the 1980s, high tariffs protected homegrown garment and other local businesses, and then trade programs backed by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund started taking hold in African countries. 

Tariffs were lowered and local factories had to contend with new and cheap competition, causing many to fail and shut down. African countries like Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad, Togo and Uganda which are huge producers of cotton, from which clothes are made, remains some of the places where the sale of second-hand clothing is thriving. African economists argue that Africa cannot hope to build its own industry when it is flooded with cheap imports. 


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