Apparel Sourcing Intelligence - Worldwide

Swaziland “fails to retain its AGOA status”: US Ambassador

Swaziland has lost its eligibility for America’s AGOA duty free concession, the local US Ambassador announced on May 15, and goods shipped after December 31 will face full US import duty. The Swazi government appears to be in denial about the loss, though there has been no official confirmation from Washington

All countries making use of  African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) concessions need to produce an annual report confirming they meet the human rights requirements of the Act.  Swaziland had earlier been granted an extension until May 15 to demonstrate it guaranteed  and protected internationally recognised worker rights and the right to freely speak, associate, and assemble without police or government interference.

In spite of extensions, and repeated local pressure from garment manufacturers and the industry’s 17,000 workers, no report arrived, and no explanation materialised from the country’s government. Although Swazi export to the US under the programme are, by US standards, trivial (about $47 mn of apparel in  2013), its garment factories have scarcely any customers outside the US: the EU offers Swaziland similar concessions, but the factories’ mainly Taiwanese owners have shown no interest in making use of them.

The US has been under pressure to impose sanctions on Swaziland over human rights almost ever since AGOA was introduced in 2000. For most of the time, most pressure has come from US unions and has focused on workers’ rights. But recent Swazi legislation, purportedly against terrorism, seems to have been persistently used to suppress all opposition