President Trump endorsed the re-admission of Swaziland into AGOA, and that the southern Africa country will become eligible for trade benefits in the 2018 calendar year.
A press statement issued by the US Embassy in Swaziland on Wednesday, said the US president took the decision after the US was pleased with the accomplishments that Swaziland had made over the years.
“The Trump Administration has underscored issues of concern that were identified during the AGOA eligibility review process, and suggested priorities for Swaziland to demonstrate continued progress on AGOA eligibility criteria, including but not limited to eliminating child labour and promoting women’s protections,” read the US Embassy statement.
Swaziland was suspended from AGOA in January 2015 after it reportedly failed to meet five benchmarks, including full passage of amendments to the Industrial Relations Act; full passage of amendments to sections 40 and 97 of the Industrial Relations Act relating to civil and criminal liability of union leaders during
protest actions; and establishing a code of good practice for the police during public protests.
It took the country a short while to review and meet the three benchmarks mentioned above, but the other two, which are full passage of amendments to the Suppression of Terrorism Act (STA) and full passage of amendments to the Public Order Act took about three years to meet.
Speaking on behalf of the government of Swaziland was Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini who said this was good news to go with into 2018, and added that this was a result of all sectors and stakeholders working together.
International stakeholders also welcomed the news, with Ray Li from the Tex ray Group in Taiwan telling local media that he was looking forward to investing more in Swaziland, while George Lys from Kirsh Holdings Africa said: “It’s a strong signal of support from the US, and gives us huge potential for growth and employment.”
During the time when Swaziland was suspended, about 25 000 Swazis lost their jobs as textile industries were forced to close shop because they could not cope with the lost benefits, which included selling their products in US markets without having to pay tax.