By Hlengiwe Ndlovu | 2018-01-14
BRITISH High Commission’s Head of Economics and Trade Policy Nigel Dickerson has assured that the United Kingdom will not impose the same benchmarks in the new Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) as those imposed by the United States of America on Swaziland for the country to regain access to the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
Dickerson was responding to a concern posed to him in a question and answer session in the Economics Association of Swaziland (ECAS) half-day seminar held at the Happy Valley Hotel yesterday.
“I am aware that the United States of America required certain standards and benchmarks for Swaziland to regain access to AGOA, and I must say Swaziland has achieved in this regard.
“The United Kingdom’s Economic Partnership Agreement approach, however, is not similar to that of the USA’s. Our EPA is a collective approach for the different countries and we do not single out individual countries in our negotiations neither do we impose restrictions or conditions on individual states,” he said.
The question that had been specifically posed from the floor was: “Swaziland has just gone through a very painful experience with AGOA. What should we look forward to with regards to the United Kingdom in the EPA negotiations?
“We cannot ignore the pain we went through with the USA and even though we try, but we are still reeling from the effects that came with us being removed from AGOA.
“What is the United Kingdom’s stance with regards to these benchmarks, should we brace ourselves to go through the same pain?”.
Swaziland recently regained access to AGOA after being removed in 2015.
The five benchmarks set by the United States of America for Swaziland to regain access to AGOA were: full passage of amendments to the Industrial Relations Act; full passage of amendments to sections 40 and 97 of the Industrial Relations Act relating to civil and criminal liability of union leaders during protest actions; and establishing a code of good practice for the police during public protests.
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