Eswatini merchandise trade: Jan-May 2019 and Jan-May 2020 comparison

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Eswatini merchandise trade: Jan-May 2019 and Jan-May 2020 comparison

Eswatini merchandise trade: Jan-May 2019 and Jan-May 2020 comparison

Eswatini is one of the few African countries that has reported their 2020 monthly trade data thus far. Eswatini is a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Free Trade Area (FTA) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) FTA.

SACU[1] is a customs union with duty-free intra-SACU trade and a common external tariff (CET) applicable to all goods entering from outside the customs area.

Eswatini has preferential access to other COMESA FTA member states[2] under a derogation but is exempt from reciprocating preferential access due to it being a member of the SACU.

Together with the other SACU members, Eswatini has preferential trade agreements with the European Union,[3] the Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR),[4] and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).[5] SACU members, along with Mozambique, have signed an EPA, which will govern their trade and economic relations post-Brexit.

In this Blog, we compare Eswatini’s merchandise trade between January-May 2019 and January-May 2020. The data used is from the International Trade Centre (ITC) TradeMap database based on Swaziland Revenue Authority statistics.

Table 1: Eswatini’s exports by regional trade partners: Jan-May 2019 and Jan-May 2020

 

Jan-May 2019

 

Jan-May 2020

Partner
US$m
% of world
 
US$m
% of world
World
761.84
 
 
601.88
 
Africa
715.08
94%
 
552.92
92%
SADC FTA
606.58
80%
 
466.79
78%
SACU
537.74
71%
 
412.06
68%
COMESA FTA
73.45
10%
 
55.13
9%
Africa excluding SACU, COMESA & SADC FTAs
60.18
8%
 
45.64
8%
EU
41.08
5%
 
44.86
7%

UK

3.06

0.4%

 

29.91

5%


Source: ITC TradeMap (November 2020) and tralac calculations

Eswatini’s exports for the first 5 months of 2019 and 2020 were valued at US$761.84 million and US$601.88 million, respectively. Over 90 per cent of the exports were to Africa mostly South Africa (importing over 60%), as well as other SACU, and SADC and COMESA FTAs countries. Outside its African regional trading partners, Eswatini trades exported mainly to Nigeria (additives of food and beverage industry, and chemical products). Eswatini’s food and beverage industry additives face a 5 per cent duty in Nigeria, while exports of chemical products face a 10 per cent duty.

Angola was the second-largest destination market for Eswatini’s exports between January and May 2019 (importing additives of food and beverage industry, and chemical products). Eswatini’s food and beverage industry additives are imported duty-free into Angola.

Congo was the second-largest destination market for Eswatini’s exports between January and May 2020 (importing additives of food and beverage industry, and chemical products). Eswatini’s food and beverage industry additives face a 10 per cent duty in Congo.

In 2020, the UK was Eswatini’s main EU destination market, accounting for 67 per cent of Eswatini’s exports to the EU. The top products exported by Eswatini to the UK were citrus fruits, nuts and other seeds and pineapples, which are imported duty-free into the UK. For both periods, top products exported by Eswatini to the EU included raw sugar cane, fresh or dried grape, citrus fruit, rum and pineapples. Eswatini’s exports of these products are imported duty-free into the EU. In the first 5 months of 2019 and 2020, Eswatini mainly exported additives used in the food and beverage industry, chemical products and raw sugar cane to its African regional trading partners.

Table 2: Eswatini’s imports by regional trade partners: Jan-May 2019 and Jan-May 2020

 

Jan-May 2019

 

Jan-May 2020

Partner
US$m
% of world
 
US$m
% of world
World
723.28
 
 
570.99
 
Africa
563.01
78%
 
411.42
72%
SADC FTA
559.14
77%
 
407.31
71%
SACU
528.30
73%
 
401.16
70%
COMESA FTA
9.22
1%
 
6.82
1%
Africa excluding SACU, COMESA & SADC FTAs
0.52
0.1%
 
0.73
0.1%
EU
36.04
5%
 
30.43
5%
UK
4.27
1%
 
2.15
0.4%

MERCOSUR

3.37

0.5%

 

1.78

0.3%

Source: ITC TradeMap (November 2020) and tralac calculations

Eswatini’s imports for the first 5 months of 2019 and 2020 amounted to US$723 million and US$571 million, respectively. The bulk of the imports (over 70 per cent) were sourced from Africa mostly South Africa, which accounted for 73% and 70% for the two periods. Other main source markets for Eswatini’s imports included China (plain woven fabrics of cotton and caffeine) and India (light oils and medicaments).

Between January and May 2019, Eswatini mainly imported light oils, medicaments and additives used in the food and beverage industry. Between January and May 2020, the top imported products were light oils, maize, medicaments and plain-woven fabrics of cotton.

Maize, medicaments and food and beverage industry additives (from any source) are imported duty-free into Eswatini. Light oils from SACU and SADC FTA are imported duty-free into Eswatini, while imports from outside SACU are levied a 0.183c/l duty. Plain woven fabrics of cotton from SACU and SADC FTAs are imported duty-tree into Eswatini.

From COMESA FTA, Eswatini imported mostly natural gum Arabic. This product was imported duty-free into Eswatini. Eswatini sourced mostly second-hand clothes from African countries outside SACU, and COMESA and SADC FTAs. Eswatini levied a 20% duty on second-hand clothes.

Eswatini mainly imported chemical products, whiskies and sulphites from the UK during both periods. UK’s chemical products, whiskies and sulphites were imported duty-free into Eswatini.

Eswatini’s main EU source markets were Italy (mostly parts of dishwashing machines and medicaments), and Ireland (additives of food and beverage industry and orange oils). All these products are imported duty-free into Eswatini.

From MERCOSUR, Eswatini imported mainly frozen chicken, and fats of beef, sheep and goat. Sewing machines were the main imported products by Eswatini in the first 5 months of January and May 2020 (accounting for 25% of the imports from MERCOSUR). MERCOSUR’s frozen chicken is imported into Eswatini duty-free or applied a 31 per cent or 82 per cent duty (depending on the tariff line). MERCOSUR’s sewing machines and fats of beef, sheep and goat were imported duty-free into Eswatini.


[1] SACU members include Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa.

[2] COMESA FTA member states include Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Eswatini, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

[3] SADC EPA has been provisionally implemented since 10 October 2016.

[4] MERCUSOR members include Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. The SACU-MERCUSOR Preferential Trade Agreement entered into force on 1 April 2016.

[5] EFTA members include Iceland, Liechtenstein and the Swiss Confederation. The SACU-EFTA Free Trade Agreement entered into force on 1 May 2008.

About the Author(s)

Talkmore Chidede

Talkmore Chidede

Talkmore Chidede holds a Doctor of Laws (LL.D) degree in International Investment Law from the University of the Western Cape. Talkmore also holds a Master of Laws (LL.M) degree (Cum Laude) in International Trade and Investment Law and a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) degree, both from the University of Fort Hare. His research interests include international investment law, international trade law, regional economic integration and international commercial arbitration.

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