The African Growth and Opportunity Act at Six Years: Focus on Worker Rights in Swaziland

September 13, 2006 // 4:00pm5:30pm

The Woodrow Wilson International Center and the Solidarity Center cordially invite you to a launch and discussion of a new Soldarity Center report entitled Justice for All: The Struggle for Worker Rights in Swaziland, the latest in the Solidarity Center's "Justice for All" series examining working conditions around the world.

The discussion, entitled "The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) at Six Years: Focus on Worker Rights in Swaziland" will be moderated by William K. Krist, Senior Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center and will feature panelists William Lucy, International Secretary-Treasurer of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and James Andrews, President of the North Carolina AFL-CIO.

Swaziland's workers are trapped in the turmoil of the global economy. Passed in 2000 AGOA offers tangible incentives for sub-Saharan African countries to access the large U.S. market, while creating a friendlier climate for U.S. investment in these countries. This preferential arrangement initially generated economic gains and job growth in Swaziland, but the 2005 phase-out of international garment and textile quotas, which provided incentives for multinational investors and helped Swaziland's export industry flourish, has thrown its economy into a tailspin.

As Swaziland's competitive advantage has eroded, almost half the garment and textile companies operating there have closed their doors and moved to lower cost countries such as China and India. As the last citizens in Africa to be ruled by an absolute monarchy, Swazi workers must face the challenges of globalization in an environment in which they cannot exercise their fundamental rights. Swazi workers are also struggling with one of the highest HIV and AIDS prevalence rate in the world. A distinguished panel will examine these issues, which are highlighted in the new Solidarity Center report, Justice for All: The Struggle for Worker Rights in Swaziland.


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