Today, Benin Republic is the main supplier of secondhand clothing to Nigeria, a country in which the importation of secondhand clothing is banned. Igbo traders, who form a transnational trade network that spans the eastern part of the West African coast and that extends to Europe and North America, dominate the import and retail trade in the commodity in Benin Republic. This is a network that could be described – depending on the side from which one chooses to look at it – either as an agent of development or as a predator on the state’s resources. The exercise here is to move beyond those arguments and to show the current configurations of the trade network as it has responded to a changing global political and economic landscape, and as it has been modified by the changes in the political economy of the West African countries that it spans.
For more on the conference [pdf].