Kenya should ban mitumba imports to promote local textile industries, Revenue Authority chairman Amb Francis Muthaura has said.
Muthaura said it is unfortunate that Kenya has been turned into a dumping site.
“Ours is a dumping ground for waste and it is terrible. It is time to take the bull by the horns, even if people like US President Donald Trump will make noise about it, we should put Kenya first. Second-hand clothes should not be allowed in because they have caused a lot of harm,” Muthaura said.
The KRA chairman noted that sectors with the local market such as textile and furniture have been abandoned yet they could be major economic drivers.
“We have a competitive edge but most of these have been left to the Chinese. Unless we have a dynamic strategy in industrialisation, we will always be defeated before we even start,” he added.
The East African Community had given itself up to 2019 to begin stopping the importation of second-hand clothes from the United States.
The US Government started issuing warnings to EAC countries that if any ban was imposed, the states would lose the privilege of selling goods to America.
Kenya pulled out of the EAC ‘mitumba’ ban deal. The then Trade Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohammed said the government was letting market forces determine what Kenyans want to buy.
Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda survived the suspension, but Rwanda, which went ahead with the plan, was recently removed from the Agoa beneficiaries list.
But Muthaura has maintained the ban is the way to go as no results in industrialsation can be seen if the production base is weak.
“We must start doing things differently. We won’t achieve much by being nice and this has to start with border control,” Muthaura said.
In rescinding the ban, Kenyan officials argued that more than 60,000 jobs in the textile industry were under threat.
With a poverty rate of 35.6 per cent, the reality is that many Kenyans have to pinch their pockets to clothe themselves.
The used clothing market allows millions of Kenyans to buy clothes for as little as Sh20. These price points do not exist in the clothing produced by the domestic textile industry.