Swaziland has been dropped from the US trade initiative, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), for non-compliance with regulations. The decision, approved by President Barack Obama, follows efforts by the US to get Swaziland to conform to labour legislation to respect workers’ rights and to install human rights guarantees allowing for freedom of assembly and speech. Its access to the act would end from January 1, the US embassy in Swaziland said on Friday. “Based upon the recommendation by the United States interagency trade policy staff committee, Obama has deemed that Swaziland repeatedly failed to demonstrate measurable progress towards the guarantee and protection of internationally recognised workers’ rights, including the right to freely speak, associate and assemble without police or government interference.” The embassy noted years of attempts to motivate the Swazi government to undergo necessary labour and human rights reforms to retain Agoa participation. May 15 was the final deadline for these reforms to be enacted, but none had been undertaken. Obama designated Madagascar as a new beneficiary country. – Stephen Langa