Swaziland Country Profile
The overall goal of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Southern Africa Trade Hub (SATH) is to increase international competitiveness, intra-regional trade and food security in the Southern Africa region. With a team of long term regional and international experts based in Gaborone, Botswana, SATH delivers targeted technical assistance to governments, the private sector and civil society organizations in support of advancing regional integration and increasing the trade capacity of selected value chains within Southern Africa.
While the majority of SATH's activities are regional in nature, some activities specifically target Swaziland as a direct beneficiary. Through various regional and cross-cutting initiatives, SATH is working with Swaziland to reduce the costs of doing business, improve the investment climate, facilitate customs connectivity and increase investment and trade in textile and apparel. Swaziland also stands to benefit significantly from SATH's support for regional integration through the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and our work on the implementation of the United States (US)-Southern African Customs Union (SACU) Trade, Investment and Development Cooperation Agreement (TIDCA).
SATH will be piloting a Regional Customs Connectivity program in July 2012 based on a Microsoft Cloud Computing platform. While the program is being piloted between Botswana and Namibia, Swaziland has participated in the program as an observer with a view to joining the pilot after the initial stages. This program has substantial opportunities to reducing the costs and time of doing business and trading across borders.
Customs Modernization: The Swaziland Revenue Authority (SRA) is receiving SATH assistance to audit and identify areas for improvement in the ASYCUDA system, which will facilitate interconnectivity and electronic data interchange with the South African Revenue Service (SARS) and Mozambican customs. This initiative includes a system audit to identify necessary improvements, the operationalization of the selectivity model followed by training for the SRA staff.
Support to the Swaziland Energy Regulatory Authority (SERA): As part of SATH's clean energy program, SATH will provide support to SERA to develop a framework to promote and regulate renewable energy sources and develop a framework for new investments in the electricity industry by independent power producers. Additionally, SERA representatives are participating in a range of SATH energy trainings on clean energy regulation and finance.
Swaziland Investor Roadmap: SATH developed an Investor Roadmap for Swaziland and performed an audit on implementation in 2010. SATH continues to work with the Swaziland Investment Promotion Agency (SIPA) and key stakeholders to follow up on interventions in areas identified in the audit. SATH undertook an assessment on progress in implementing the Roadmap in August 2011, followed by a stakeholder workshop in November 2011, which discussed resolutions to existing impediments to implementation. The Roadmap is a tool to support government efforts in undertaking critical reforms that can spur investment. In April 2012, SATH supported the relaunch of the Investor Roadmap initiative.
Textile and Apparel: As one of the region's key garment exporters, Swaziland benefits from SATH's regional activities in this sector, including participation in the "SOURCE Africa 2013" trade show, which will bring together regional producers and both regional and international buyers. SATH is currently completing an opportunity analysis for the garment sector in Swaziland which will then be used to help SIPA attract additional value chain investments.
Effective Implementation of Regional Trade Agreements: As a member of both SADC and SACU, Swaziland benefits from SATH's work to ensure the effective implementation of regional trade agreements. SATH is currently engaged in a study with the SACU Secretariat to identify constraints to expanded SACU exports to the US under the TIDCA. A capacity building program will be developed to address identified obstacles in the SACU Member States.
As part of SATH's work on the implementation of trade agreements, in March 2012, SATH hosted a seminar with the Swaziland Investment Promotion Agency (SIPA). The seminar drew 26 companies and 14 public sector participants for a two day seminar on the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and Rules of Origin (ROO).