Swaziland, located in southern part of Africa, will be excluded from the list of countries eligible to get benefit under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) of the US Government, with effect from January 2015, Ecofin Agency reported.
Makila James, the US Ambassador to Swaziland, said the southern African country has failed to keep its AGOA status, as it has not met the required criteria of Human Rights by the May 15, 2014, deadline.
Ambassador James said Swaziland only focused on the law of industrial relations, while the US also urged the Swazi Government to support the principle of freedom of expression.
Swaziland, a land-locked country surrounded by Mozambique and South Africa, is being ruled by King Mswati III, and the country is Africa’s last absolute monarchy.
The purpose of AGOA is to assist the economies of sub-Saharan Africa countries and improve economic relations between the US and the region. The Act allows sub-Saharan countries like Swaziland to export goods duty and quota-free to the US market, a privilege mainly enjoyed by the textile and apparel industry.
The list of countries eligible for AGOA is updated each year by the US Government depending upon the progress made by the eligible countries on various parameters, including the rule of law, human rights, labour regulations, and commitment to the market economy.
The garment and textile industry in Swaziland employs about 17,300 people, who now fear of becoming unemployed if the garments made by them cannot be exported duty free to the US.