February 6, 2020 — The USAID Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hub is working with the Eswatini Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Trade (MCIT) to develop a strategy for the country to utilize the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The USAID TradeHub and MCIT, drawing on an initial draft of the strategy, last week conducted private- and public-sector stakeholder consultations aimed at clarifying the challenges hindering AGOA exports to the United States. The sessions also helped identify priority sectors and ensure that stakeholders buy into and help shape the strategy. The country’s largest AGOA beneficiary to date has been the textiles and apparel sector, which currently employs 22,000 people, the majority of whom are women. Other producers, including of handicrafts and chili-based sauces, have experienced growth over the past three years, thanks in part to their participation in USAID TradeHub-supported trade shows and buyer missions. Meanwhile, the country’s macadamia and honey products are expected to see heightened demand soon. Getting there, said stakeholders, will take scaled production, better technology, and consistent standards—all of which will figure prominently in the forthcoming strategy. A second draft, incorporating feedback from the recently concluded stakeholder consultations, is due to the MCIT in February 2020. The USAID TradeHub will then facilitate a validation exercise before submission of the final report in March 2020.