Trade CS Betty Maina has said that the Ministry of Trade is developing guidelines to resume the importation of second-hand clothes. The announcement came after petitions from traders whose stock was running low, furthering unemployment in the informal sector.
The Ministry of Trade is working on measures like fumigation of wares. A committee comprising of members from Kenya Medical Supplies Authority and Kenya Medical Institute will also ascertain whether the Coronavirus can survive the shipping period for second-hand clothes.
Business Daily quoted KEBS MD Bernard Njiraini saying that the reopening of source markets will allow inspectors in source markets to guarantee the conformity of wares to sanitary standards amid the pandemic.
Further, the gradual reopening of crucial sources of second-hand items like the US and China will also facilitate the import, protecting the jobs of millions of people who depend on the sector.
Now that other areas are slowly opening up, such activities like inspection are possible. We had to first stop importation to protect Kenyans. We need to facilitate trade to continue because we understand the critical role that trade plays in micro and small-medium enterprises in their daily activities in the importation and many clearing agents in that value chain.
KEBS MD Bernard Njiraini
Second hand Import Ban Threatens Many Livelihoods
In March, the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) banned imports of second hand clothes and shoes in line with World Health Organization guidelines.
According to a Wee Tracker article, the ban threatened the jobs of 700,000 people. In the first half of 2019 Kenyans spent KSh 11.96 billion on second-hand clothes. However, there are calls to reconsider the stance, given that the pandemic might last longer than anticipated.
Businesses related to second hand clothes employ over two million people across the supply chain, accounting for almost 10% of Kenya’s total extended labor force. This includes different parties in the supply chain from importers, brokers, and transporters to retailers in informal markets like Gikomba, Toi, and Ngara and Kangemi.