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Conference | Research Seminar

The Global Politics of African Industrial Policy: The Case of the Used Clothing Ban in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda

  • Emily Anne Wolff, Leiden Institute of Public Administration
Friday 8 February 2019
Registration: Please register in advance at l-peg@hum.leidenuniv.nl to receive a copy of the paper
P.N. van Eyckhof 2
P.N. van Eyckhof 2
2311 BV Leiden

Abstract: In 2016, the East African Community (EAC) pledged to phase out used clothing imports within three years. Two years later, all Partner States had reneged on their commitment except Rwanda. I draw from 21 original interviews, government publications and secondary literature to explore how the distribution of power in society impacted commitment to the used clothing ban in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. In so doing I probe the plausibility of political settlements theory. Given the mobilization of the US against this particular policy, I expand the theory’s analytical scope beyond domestic borders, incorporating insights from International Political Economy regarding policy space. I argue that commitment to the used clothing ban was a function of: the vulnerability of the ruling coalition to horizontally and vertically excluded factions, the holding power of the US Trade Representative (and allies), and the holding power of foreign-owned, export-oriented garment firms. Global actors influenced policy outcomes, but the effect was moderated by the strength of each ruling coalition. My findings lend support to an underlying premise of political settlements theory: that the distribution of power in society matters for variation in economic performance, provided that the distribution of power in global society is also considered.

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