Troubled Lesotho may lose 35,000 jobs if US drops AGOA trade access


Swaziland was removed as a beneficiary because of a lack of protection for workers rights.

LESOTHO is at risk of losing 35,000 jobs in the textile industry if the U.S. drops the nation from its preferential trade accord because of worsening political tension in the country, a labour union group said.

Lesotho must avoid a similar fate as Swaziland, which was dropped from the African Growth and Opportunity Act, Ts’eliso Ramochela, secretary general of the Alliance of Progressive Trade Unions, said by phone on Sunday. The U.S. has voiced concerns about the political situation in Lesotho, he said.

Lesotho is a beneficiary of AGOA, which allows African nations to export a range of goods to the U.S. duty free. U.S. lawmakers are deciding whether to extend the trade agreement when it expires in September.

The country has been in turmoil since an attempted coup in August against former Prime Minister Tom Thabane, who was subsequently defeated in elections in February.

Security concerns have worsened since then with reports of assassination attempts against opposition lawmakers.

Eligibility for AGOA include respect for the rule of law, efforts to combat corruption and protection of human rights.

Swaziland was removed as a beneficiary of AGOA in June last year because of a lack of protection for workers rights.

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