- African Growth and Opportunity Act
TRALAC - Trade Law Centre
You are here: Home/News/Article/Swaziland: Parliament’s deafening AGOA silence

Swaziland: Parliament’s deafening AGOA silence

Swaziland: Parliament’s deafening AGOA silence
Published date:
Thursday, 19 June 2014

After an unexplained long hiatus, the House of Assembly reconvened on Wednesday but the order paper did not have anything on the under-threat African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) programme. 

An order paper is similar to an agenda where the day’s business of the House is listed and is published each sitting day.

When parliament adjourned more than a month ago, the country was immersed in an important bid to try and save its eligibility to the AGOA programme.


In order for Swaziland to continue benefitting under the programme, government was supposed to meet five benchmarks set by the United States of America and all these had to be met through parliament passing a number of legislations.

One of these legislations, the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill of 2013, had already been tabled in the House but was later withdrawn for further amendments.

The House then gave Minister of Labour and Social Security Winnie Magagula a 10-day ultimatum within which to have returned the Bill.

That ultimatum long elapsed and it was expected that the members of the House would address this issue on their return but it never happened.

Efforts by the Sunday Observer to get an explanation from Manzini North MP Jan Sithole, who is chairman of the portfolio committee on labour and social security, were unsuccessful as he did not pick up his phone when called.

He was first contacted on Thursday and it was explained to him why he was being sought and he requested that he be called after 30 minutes because he was busy with something at that time.

However, when called afterwards, his mobile phone rang unanswered.


He was again called on Friday but he did not answer his phone and the same happened on Saturday where the last call to him was made at 6pm.

Sithole is the one who withdrew the IR (Amendment) Bill exactly 34 days before May 15, 2014 – the deadline by which Swaziland should have met the five benchmarks. When the deadline eventually came, Swaziland had not met any of the five benchmarks and currently awaits a decision from the USA government on what effects this has had on the AGOA eligibility status. This publication understands that Cabinet recently discussed in detail the AGOA situation where a number of issues were explored. However, nothing has been communicated publicly. US Embassy’s Public Affairs Officer Ruth Newman said there was no new information on the AGOA issue and referred to a press statement issued on May 23, 2014 which emphasised that the review of the country’s eligibility ended on May 15, 2014.

“The five benchmarks were given to the Government of the Kingdom of Swaziland (GKOS) by the United States Government to avoid any ambiguity as to what we consider progress on internationally accepted worker rights issues.  Based on what was accomplished on the benchmarks by the GKOS by May 15, the process of determining Swaziland’s eligibility is underway,” reads the statement.  


The embassy promised to inform the public once a final decision about the kingdom’s AGOA status ‘has been officially communicated to the Government of the Kingdom of Swaziland’.

The five benchmarks are as follows: Full passage of the amendment to section 97 of the Industrial Relations Act to provide for the registration of federations and other incidental matters; full passage of the amendment to the Suppression of Terrorism Act; full passage of the amendment to the Public Order Act allowing for the full recognition of the freedom of assembly, speech and organisation; full passage of the amendments to Sections 40 and 97 of the Industrial Relations Act; and dissemination and implementation of the Code of Good Practice on Protest and Industrial Action.

Read related news articles

Time for Eswatini's entrepreneurs to seize AGOA opportunities

The time has come for young emaSwati entrepreneurs to seize opportunities to manufacture basic every day consumer products for export to the US under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The main drive is to get emaSwati to manufacture products locally, sell locally, regionally and internationally using the various initiatives made available by government.  Eswatini’s economy is at a crossroads. While the country boasts a...

13 February 2024

Eswatini exports 26 thousand tons of sugar to the US

About 26 535 tonnes of sugar is shipped yearly to the Unites States of America through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). Eswatini Sugar Association (ESA) Logistics Manager, Sibusiso Hlandze said the local sugar was exported  to a terminal in Maputo, Mozambique. He said the terminal,called the Sociedade Terminal De Acucar De Maputo (STAM), played a significant role in the country's sugar industry. It is owned by four sugar...

22 August 2023

Eswatini's AGOA exports at over $8m

The country’s performance in AGOA was highlighted by Tammy Dlamini, who is the Senior Country Representative (Eswatini and Angola) for the USAID Africa Trade and Investment Southern Africa Buy-in Activity.  In his presentation it was noted that the country’s exports to the United States (US) in 2022 was over E1.4 billion, while in 2021 it was E669 164 496 and E387 702 611.40 in 2021. Dlamini said the US was a big market worth...

17 July 2023

Swaziland: Is 2018 the year for its textile workers?

Can the year 2018 be a turning point for textile workers’ prolonged poverty? The workers in the textile industry said as they got into the new year and edged closer to this year’s negotiations which are scheduled to start next Wednesday, they would be demanding that government should adhere to TUCOSWA’s call for a basic minimum wage, which would see them as part of the least paid workforce, getting at least E3 000 per month. This means...

25 January 2018

Swaziland: "We should learn from AGOA loss"

Two years ago, I wrote on this very column how disappointing government was in the handling of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) issue.  I remember vividly describing it as a catastrophe so dreadful to be likened to Tsunami proportions. Last week, United States (US) President Donald Trump gave a green light to the restoration of the country’s eligibility for AGOA, which in all honesty is massive relieve for the country and...

31 December 2017

US restores trade benefits to Gambia, Swaziland

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday restored trade benefits to Gambia and Swaziland under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office said. [See text of Proclamation here] The AGOA trade program provides sub-Saharan countries duty-free access to the United States on condition they meet certain statutory eligibility requirements, including eliminating barriers to U.S. trade and investment and...

23 December 2017

Presidential Proclamation to take certain actions under the AGOA and for other purposes

In Proclamation 9223 of December 23, 2014, President Obama determined that the Republic of The Gambia (“The Gambia”) was not making continual progress in meeting the requirements described in section 506A(a)(1) of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended (the “Trade Act”) (19 U.S.C. 2466a(a)), as added by section 111(a) of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (the “AGOA”). Thus, pursuant to section 506A(a)(3) of the Trade Act (19 U.S.C....

23 December 2017

Eligibility reviews: Press statement in support of Swaziland’s eligibility status for AGOA

The Amalgamated Trade Union of Swaziland (ATUSWA) representing 9 000 workers in the textile and apparel industry, the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) representing 40 000 workers and 16 affiliated unions, and the IndustriALL Global Union representing 50 million workers in 140 countries met in Manzini, Swaziland on the 29th of August 2017 to discuss the status of the United States Trade Act – the African Growth and Opportunity Act...

04 September 2017

Swazi king signs public order, terrorism amendment bills

His Majesty King Mswati III has given assent to the Public Order Bill and the Suppression of Terrorism amendment Act. The King endorsed the two Acts last week Tuesday. This comes as good news as this means that Swaziland is a step closer to regaining its African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) status. Swaziland was removed from AGOA in January 2015.  

15 August 2017

US urges Swaziland to review terrorism law as precondition for AGOA readmission

The United States has asked Swaziland to redefine ‘Terrorism Act’ before it could be reconsidered for the African Growth Opportunity Agreement (AGOA). This was stated by Prime Minister Banarbas Dlamini when giving feedback to Senate Portfolio Committee in Parliament during the debate of the Suppression of Terrorism Amendment Bill No. 10 of 2010 on Wednesday. The premier said during the discussion of the bill with the Americans and the...

05 July 2017

Swaziland: 'One month to AGOA review cycle'

Swaziland has one month to work on the remaining AGOA benchmarks as this year’s AGOA review cycle will begin in June until September. AGOA is the African Growth and Opportunity Act, a United States Trade Act enacted on May 18, 2000 as Public Law 106 of the 200th Congress.  The legislation significantly enhances market access to the US for qualifying Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries. While working on the remaining benchmarks, which...

01 May 2016

You are here: Home/News/Article/Swaziland: Parliament’s deafening AGOA silence