Due to worries over workers´rights the United States has removed Swaziland from a lucrative trade pact as it allowed Madagascar back in after the island restored democracy.
“President Barack Obama pointed to Swaziland’s use of force against demonstrations and lack of recognition of labor unions as he removed the impoverished kingdom from the Africa Growth Opportunity Act, which offers preferential access to the US market for goods from some 40 sub Saharan nations that meet political and economic standards,” reports Capital FM.
According to US Trade Representative Michael Froman, Washington had been looking forward to working with Swaziland on improving conditions so it could return to AGOA.
“The withdrawal of AGOA benefits is not a decision that is taken lightly,” Froman said in a statement.
“We have made our concerns very clear to Swaziland over the last several years and we engaged extensively on concrete steps that Swaziland could take to address the concerns.”
Meanwhile, Obama restored Madagascar’s AGOA eligibility following elections late last year. The United States had suspended the country from the trade deal after a military coup in 2009.
Established in 2000, the AGOA has contributed to a sharp rise in Swaziland’s textile industry, which employs 17,000 people. Swaziland said in May it was doing everything possible to retain its AGOA status.