Country removed from lucrative US Trade Pact
The United States removed Swaziland from the lucrative trade pact (AGOA) yesterday due to concerns over workers’ rights.
President Barack Obama pointed to Swaziland’s use of force against demonstrations and lack of recognition of labour 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. US Trade Representative Michael Froman said Washington hoped to work 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 S…
Slow SA Economy drags Swazi Reserves down
The kingdom of Swaziland has around US$ 800m left in its gross official reserves, according to the central bank’s latest estimate, as an economic slowdown in neighbouring South Africa hits home. The official reserves would cover only four months of vital imports, the central bank’s Monetary Policy Consultative Committee said in its latest fiscal update today.
“The contraction in the level of reserves was mainly on account of payment of government’s external obligations,” a statement said. The country is highly dependent on imports and has seen exports hit by a slowing South African economy. “The South African economy continued to notch sluggish growth rates and the outlook remain precarious,” the statement said. The absolute monarchy,…
Last African absolute monarchy is gearing for Polls
Inside – but still outside – South Africa, the small mountain kingdom of Swaziland votes for a new parliament today, in an election dismissed by critics as a rubber stamp for King Mswati III’s absolutistic royal rule. Just over a third of the monarch’s 1.2 million “loyal” subjects are registered to cast their votes for in total 55 members of the Swazi Parliament, who are hand-picked by the traditional chiefs, who – in turn – are loyal to the king. Political parties are not formally banned, but are restricted, and the country remains sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarchy and King Mswati III still holds the ultimate sway over the government, he can veto new laws, dissolve “his” parliament and may not be sued or charged.
SA Loan to Swaziland hits a Snag
A ZAR 2.4bn loan that South Africa agreed to extend to Swaziland has hit a snag, but the landlocked kingdom, Africa’s last absolute monarchy, can survive without it, its finance minister said on Yesterday.
The loan was agreed in 2011 as Swaziland grappled with an acute funding crisis. South Africa was due to release the first tranche of the bailout last year but the money never materialised.
“It would seem that it’s not working out,” Finance Minister Majozi Sithole told Reuters in Johannesburg, citing additional conditions set by South Africa.
“If we can’t get it because of any complications it’s not a train smash for Swaziland. We will live without it.” Well spoken, Mr. Minister, we just hope you are really confident!