Swaziland textile industry future hanging by a thread over AGOA eligibility

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2014-11-05 11:00:00 – Swaziland

The immediate future of Swaziland’s duty-free export market to the United States (US) through the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is hanging by a thread as Swaziland will be struck off the beneficiaries of AGOA late December, if it fails to meet the benchmarks.

Varying stakeholders from the textile and apparel industry in the country have sent an impassioned request to United States President Barak Obama, to at least give Swaziland a few months more to sort the benchmarks hurdle that resulted in its expulsion from AGOA.

The pockets of different sectors of Swaziland associated and benefiting in various ways from the presence of the textile companies would be hit very hard with the fall out of AGOA, hence appeal that the country be given a few more months to allow the country to fulfill the benchmarks.

The closure of the Matsapha- based Tex Ray textile company have jolted them into this action, as it seemed imminent that even the other factories, especially those in the Shiselweni region would soon go the same route.

However, there is little or no chance that they can survive this catastrophe. Even the related industries like security, transport and vendors will also be hard hit, and in extension, the many souls that are reliant on survival of textile and apparel industry.

Eugene Sithole, who works for a security company at the Zheng Yong factory said that their appeal to the American leader and its people to extend a lifeline so government and other players can deliberate and ultimately meet the benchmarks.

AGOA is a US non-reciprocal trade preference program that provides duty-free treatment to US imports of about 6,000 products from eligible sub-Saharan African countries. It is non-reciprocal in the sense that US imports from AGOA-beneficiary countries represent a very small share (2%) of total US imports, and are largely concentrated in energy-related products, oil being the top duty-free US import from AGOA countries. Among non-energy products, apparel is the top export for a number of AGOA countries, notably from Kenya and three southern African countries: Mauritius, Lesotho and Swaziland.

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