Evolution of trade in Eswatini from 1968 to 2015: A developmental perspective
By Thabo Sacolo, Mangaliso Mohammed and Thembumenzi Dlamini
Using data from 1968 to 2015, this paper presents an assessment of the evolution of trade in the Kingdom of Eswatini, tracking changes in the composition of both import and export commodities. These changes are viewed in light of the institutional development, trade relations, and infrastructure development in the Kingdom of Eswatini. The paper examines the trends of selected economic indicators such as the imports, exports, and trade balance. The paper also presents changes in shares of different commodities to total exports or imports.
Significance of trading partners, in terms of how much commodities they provide to or absorb from Eswatini, is also presented. The study provides evidence that, even though the country has put in place institutional frameworks to facilitate trade, trade balance has been negative for the most part of the review period, the export basket and export destinations have experienced minimal changes, and imports sources showed insignificant changes. Based on these observed trends, it is apparent that Eswatini had not been able to take advantage of most of the trade agreements, at least not to their full potential. It is therefore a recommendation of the study that efforts to improve the country’s comparative advantage should match the strides to build trade relations for trade arrangement to benefit the economy. Increasing investment into research and development is one of the strategies that the country can employ in order to widen the range of commodities in which it has comparative advantage.