TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Country Info: Swaziland

Economic Background

[*NOTE: Swaziland had lost its AGOA eligibility status - see related Announcement - but was reinstated on 23 December 2017. The apparel visa system was re-authorised on 02 July 2018]

Surrounded by South Africa, except for a short border with Mozambique, Swaziland depends heavily on South Africa from which it receives more than 90% of its imports and to which it sends 60% of its exports. Swaziland's currency is pegged to the South African rand, effectively subsuming Swaziland's monetary policy to South Africa. The government is heavily dependent on customs duties from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), and worker remittances from South Africa supplement domestically earned income. Subsistence agriculture employs approximately 70% of the population.

The manufacturing sector has diversified since the mid-1980s. Sugar and wood pulp were major foreign exchange earners; however, the wood pulp producer closed in January 2010, and sugar is now the main export earner. Mining has declined in importance in recent years with only coal and quarry stone mines remaining active. Customs revenues plummeted due to the global economic crisis and a drop in South African imports.

The resulting decline in revenue has pushed the country into a fiscal crisis. Swaziland is looking to other countries, including South Africa, for assistance, but continues to struggle to meet its monthly payroll and fund government programs. With an estimated 40% unemployment rate, Swaziland's need to increase the number and size of small and medium enterprises and attract foreign direct investment is acute.

Overgrazing, soil depletion, drought, and floods persist as problems for the future. More than one-fourth of the population needed emergency food aid in 2006-07 because of drought, and more than one-quarter of the adult population has been infected by HIV/AIDS. (Source: World Factbook)

Downloads

Related News

Swaziland: Is 2018 the year for its textile workers?

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...

25 January, 2018
Swaziland:

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...

31 December, 2017
US restores trade benefits to Gambia, Swaziland

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...

23 December, 2017
Presidential Proclamation to take certain actions under the AGOA and for other purposes

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...

23 December, 2017
Eligibility reviews: Press statement in support of Swaziland’s eligibility status for AGOA

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...

04 September, 2017
Swazi king signs public order, terrorism amendment bills

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