ITC, EU and Eswatini partner to boost jobs and business

29 March 2023
ITC News

ITC's Alliances for Action has joined forces with the EU, the Government of Eswatini and private sector to launch the State Business Relations framework to boost the country’s competitiveness

A 4-way alliance to boost jobs, business, and artisan skills in Eswatini

“We have to find ways to make it easier, better, faster, and cheaper to do business in and within Eswatini,” said Business Eswatini President Andrew le Roux. “We need competitive alliances to trigger growth, and this requires an effective platform.”

This platform recently became a reality with the launch of the State Business Relations (SBR) Framework in Eswatini, a four-way alliance between the government, the European Union, the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the private sector.

The framework will offer public and private actors a dedicated space to come together to create an enabling business climate – a platform where intention is powered with action.

In presenting her keynote address at the launch, the EU ambassador to the Kingdom of Eswatini, Dessislava Choumelova, congratulated the government and private sector, pledging ongoing EU support.

Eswatini’s National Competitiveness Council will be chaired by the prime minister. This apex body will meet bi-annually to consider the recommendations of the SBR Core Group. Co-chaired by Business Eswatini, the Core Group will be at the heart of the framework, identifying priorities  on specific national competitiveness issues.

The participation of the Federation Eswatini Business Community will elevate the voice of small businesses. The Eswatini Economic Policy Analysis and Research Centre will monitor the validity and urgency of issues raised. 

The goal? To make doing business easier by decreasing bureaucracy and barriers to trade, while engaging government and business for policy reforms and investment flows.

The expected result? More jobs, better business, increased exports and better livelihoods for all.

The Eswatini SBR Framework is facilitated under an EU-funded project, Eswatini: Promoting growth through competitive alliances. The project seeks to boost jobs, business, and artisan skills in the country and support small enterprises. The project also seeks to promote export-led growth, especially through the full utilization of the Southern African Development Community-European Union Economic Partnership Agreement (SADC-EU EPA).  


The SBR framework engages state and market to face challenges

The country has prioritized business-led growth and an export-led economy to counter its high levels of poverty and unemployment, and its low levels of investment. But small and medium-sized enterprises still face key structural problems that need to be addressed for Eswatini to overcome its endemic employment challenges.    

The Alliances in Eswatini project understands these challenges, so it works with the government to improve the business climate and attract investment. The SBR Framework is the embodiment of this approach, providing a sustainable governance framework for Eswatini that goes well beyond the lifespan of the project.

“It demonstrates a shared commitment between the Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini and the private sector to improve the pillars of economic growth, investment climate and taking advantage of market opportunities at national, regional, continental, and inter-continental levels,” said Prime Minister Dlamini.

The Eswatini SBR is well-aligned with the national priorities identified in Eswatini’s Strategic Roadmap 2019-2022 – especially those on improving national competitiveness by enabling the business environment through a private sector-led economy.

Business Eswatini is the country’s leading business organization, with a mandate to make Eswatini an attractive option for investment.

“For too long now, despite our best individual efforts, our global ranking for competitiveness and ease of doing business has largely stagnated,” Le Roux said. “This is the ideal platform to change that.”


The launch seals partnerships and commitment for Eswatini’s competitiveness

The Eswatini SBR Framework launch was attended by:

  • Prime Minister Cleopas Dlamini
  • EU Ambassador Dessislava Choumelova
  • Minister of Finance Neal Rijkenberg
  • Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade Manqoba Khumalo
  • Minister of Agriculture Jabulani Mabuza, who is also acting Minister of Natural Resources and Energy
  • Principal Secretaries
  • Representatives of Business Eswatini and the Federation of Eswatini Business Community
EU ambassador Eswatini speaks
Her Excellency the EU Ambassador to Eswatini, Dessislava Choumelova

“Eswatini will be able to take better advantage of the quota-free, tariff-free trade under our Southern African

Development Community-European Union Economic Partnership Agreement,” Choumelova said. “Moreover, by taking advantage of the SADC-EU-EPA, Eswatini can position itself to better benefit from future opportunities under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.”

Meanwhile, ITC continues to work closely through the project with all SBR stakeholders, smallholder farmers, processors and artisans in Eswatini to support them in transforming food systems into sustainable growth.


About the project

Eswatini: Promoting growth through competitive alliances, funded by the EU, supports job creation for small farmers, entrepreneurs and artisans. Eswatini offers the global market unique organic produce, artisan roasted coffee, handmade cultural creations and gourmet condiment lines. ITC works closely with smallholder farmers, agro-processors and artisans in Eswatini to support them in ways that are sustainable and benefit both people and the planet. In this way, ITC fosters and preserves cultural heritage, and draws on artisan skills and concepts of green growth.