Acting Prime Minister, Mr. Themba Masuku;
Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade, Mr. Manqoba Khumalo;
Chief Executive Officer of Business Eswatini, Mr. Nathi Dlamini;
Chief Executive Officer, Eswatini Investment Promotion Authority, Mr. Sibani Mngomezulu;
Representatives of the Eswatini private sector;
Members of the media;
Distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen;
All protocols observed.
It is my pleasure to join the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade today, for this event to recognize the excellence and innovation of export firms in reaching export markets.
In its National Strategic Development Plan (2019 – 2022), the Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini emphasized “Enhanced Export Growth & Product Diversification, and Increased Employment-Stimulating Investment”. The U.S. Government continues to support this export-led economic growth model, particularly in assisting firms seeking to export to U.S. markets through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
The AGOA Utilization Strategy, launched by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Trade in March 2021, aims to increase exports from Eswatini to the United States under AGOA by at least 12 percent per year for the next five years.
Eswatini exported more than $31 million worth of products to the U.S. market in 2020, including sugar, preserved food, nuts, handicraft, optical and medical instruments, and electrical machinery. Eswatini also exported approximately $1.31 billion to South Africa in 2020 (mainly agricultural commodities, textile and apparel), highlighting the country’s export excellence and readiness to expand exports to the U.S.
Today’s event recognizes those who contributed to these impressive numbers. And it recognizes the great potential to improve upon and diversify these exports. The U.S. is proud to partner with the Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini, the private sector, and affiliated / membership-based associations in Eswatini, to bolster Eswatini’s export-led economic growth.
I would like to thank Business Eswatini (BE) and the Eswatini Investment Promotion Authority (EIPA) for partnering with the United States to coordinate and host this Exporter Awards Event.
We hope this event, the first of its kind, will encourage export firms in Eswatini to enhance their export competitiveness to ensure their products reach new markets in South Africa and the United States.
In 2021 the United States entered into a formal partnership with the EIPA to support the growth of Eswatini exporters to South Africa and to the United States. The partnership includes co-hosting industry events and workshops to capacitate exporters, facilitating market linkages, and supporting the AGOA country implementation strategy.
Additionally, we are working with EIPA to provide trade-enhancing services to local firms. These services can include the provision of product-specific market requirement information, assistance in obtaining any required certifications, and coordinating with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Through this effort, firms like Black Mamba and Eswatini Kitchen have begun exporting to the United States, utilizing e-commerce platforms for products that include gourmet sauces for sale on Amazon. We were able to make this happen by helping the firms to meet buyers, getting their labels reviewed to meet FDA requirements, and linking them with an e-commerce management firm that provides storage, marketing, and reputation management services in the United States.
I applaud the collaborative effort behind this event, and I see it as a positive step forward in increasing Eswatini’s export competitiveness, diversity, and business practices, especially in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic. I would also like to thank the exporters present here and congratulate those nominated for the award. I am pleased the nominations represent diverse industries, including garments, personal protective equipment (PPE), handicraft products and agro-processed products.
I hope the awards will inspire you and others to keep working to achieve improved exports, which will not only benefit your businesses, but the country as a whole.
Thank you. Siyabonga