Investing

flag Eswatini Eswatini: Investing

FDI in Figures

Despite its relatively small size compared to other countries in the region, Eswatini has been able to attract some FDI in recent years, particularly in the manufacturing and tourism sectors. According to UNCTAD's World Investment Report 2023, after returning around their pre-crisis level, at USD 117 million in 2021, FDI inflows dropped to USD 21 million in 2022. In the same year, the total stock of FDI was estimated at USD 4.1 billion, around 93% of the country’s GDP. The Annual Economic Review Report 2022/23 released by the Central Bank shows that the country’s FDI account posted a net of SZL 554.1 million inflow in 2022 due to inflows comprising a reduction of assets abroad and a rise in direct investment liabilities. The sub-account shows that assets recorded a reduction of SZL 284.7 million in 2022 from an increase of SZL 891.3 million in 2021. FDI liabilities, on the other hand, grew to SZL 269.5 million in 2022 - following a wider SZL 1.737 billion increase in the preceding year. Reinvested earnings improved by SZL 324.1 million in 2022 from SZL 983.3 million in 2021 - as companies ploughed back their receipts into the local economy. In terms of sectors, the main FDI flows into Eswatini have been in manufacturing, with a focus on textiles, clothing, and agribusiness. Other sectors that have received FDI include tourism, construction, and services. The main countries investing in Eswatini are South Africa, Taiwan, and the United States. South Africa, as Eswatini's neighbour and largest trading partner, accounts for a significant proportion of FDI in the country.

Eswatini benefits from good road infrastructure, electric energy (mainly imported from South Africa), and telecommunications. Investors are offered various incentives, such as repatriation of profits, fully serviced industrial sites, purpose-built factory shells at competitive prices, and exemptions from duties on raw materials used in the production of goods intended for export outside the Southern African Customs Union (SACU). Additionally, investors can benefit from financial incentives like tax allowances and deductions for new businesses, including a 10-year exemption from withholding tax on dividends and a low corporate tax rate of 10% for approved investment projects. New investors can also enjoy duty-free import of machinery and equipment. Investors in the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) may receive further benefits, such as a 20-year exemption from all corporate taxation (followed by taxation at 5%), full refunds of customs duties, value-added tax, and other taxes paid on goods purchased for use as raw material, equipment, machinery, and manufacturing, unrestricted repatriation of profits, and full exemption from foreign exchange controls for all SEZ operations. However, investments are screened by the government, and foreign investment in land is restricted. In addition, state-owned enterprises distort the economy. The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary power, but the king’s power to appoint judges limits judicial independence (The Heritage Foundation). Corruption is also a major issue. The Swati government has placed emphasis on the energy sector, with a particular focus on renewable energy. It has formulated a Grid Code and Renewable Energy and Independent Power Producer (RE&IPP) Policy to establish a transparent regulatory framework and encourage investment, supported by a sovereign guarantee. Overall, Eswatini ranks 130th among the 180 economies on the 2023 Corruption Perception Index and 107th out of 184 countries on the latest Index of Economic Freedom.

 

Country Comparison For the Protection of Investors

  Eswatini Sub-Saharan Africa United States Germany
Index of Transaction Transparency* 2.0 5.5 7.0 5.0
Index of Manager’s Responsibility** 5.0 3.5 9.0 5.0
Index of Shareholders’ Power*** 6.0 5.5 9.0 5.0

Source: Doing Business - Latest available data.

Note: *The Greater the Index, the More Transparent the Conditions of Transactions. **The Greater the Index, the More the Manager is Personally Responsible. *** The Greater the Index, the Easier it Will Be For Shareholders to Take Legal Action.

 
Foreign Direct Investment 202020212022
FDI Inward Flow (million USD) 3611721
FDI Stock (million USD) 3,834.04,129.84,151.0
Number of Greenfield Investments* 1.01.01.0
Value of Greenfield Investments (million USD) 101158

Source: UNCTAD - Latest available data

Note: * Greenfield Investments are a form of Foreign Direct Investment where a parent company starts a new venture in a foreign country by constructing new operational facilities from the ground up.

 

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Tax Rates

Value-added tax (VAT)
15% (standard rate).
Zero-rated items include: goods or services exported; international transportation of goods or passengers or connected goods or services; maize meal, maize, beans, milk, brown bread, samp, rice, fresh fruit and vegetables and fresh eggs, vegetable oil (except olive oil), paraffin and animal feeds; farming input such as fertilizers, seeds (excluding flower seeds) and pesticides; prescription drugs and medicines; school textbooks; petrol, diesel and liquid gas.
The following items are exempt: financial and insurance services (both long and short term); postage stamps; land and buildings not used for commercial and industrial purposes; lease or letting of residential immovable property; education, burial, cremation, medical, dental, nursing and social welfare services.
Company Tax
27.5%
Withholding Taxes
Dividends: 10% (residents; South Africa-registered companies under certain conditions)/12.5%(for companies registered in Botswana, Lesotho, and the Republic of South Africa)/15% (non-residents); Interests: 10%; Royalties: 15%.
Social Security Contributions Paid By Employers
There are no social security contributions in Eswatini.
Other Domestic Resources
Swaziland Revenue Authority (Siyakwemukela)
Consult Doing Business Website, to obtain a summary of the taxes and mandatory contributions.
 
 

Individual Taxes

Personal income tax Progressive rates from 0 to 33%
SZL 0 – 100, 000 20% (a rebate of SZL 8,200 is applied to the yearly tax due)
SZL 100,001 – 150,000 SZL 20,000 plus 25% of taxable income in excess of SZL 100,000
SZL 150,001 – 200,000 SZL 32,500 plus 30% of taxable income in excess of SZL 150,000
SZL 200,001 and above SZL 47,500 plus 33% of taxable income in excess of SZL 200,000
A rebate of SZL 8,200 (increased to SZL 10,900 for people over 60 years of age) per annum is applied to the annualized tax calculated.
 
 

Country Comparison For Corporate Taxation

  Eswatini Sub-Saharan Africa United States Germany
Number of Payments of Taxes per Year 33.0 36.6 10.6 9.0
Time Taken For Administrative Formalities (Hours) 122.0 284.8 175.0 218.0
Total Share of Taxes (% of Profit) 35.8 47.3 36.6 48.8

Source: Doing Business - Latest available data.

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Investment Opportunities

Tenders, Projects and Public Procurement
Fontier Market Network, Tenders in Africa
African Tenders
DgMarket, Tenders Worldwide
Setting Up a Company
Consult Doing Business Website, to know about procedures to start a Business in Swaziland.
Useful Resources
Swaziland Investment Promotion Authority
Economic Developments and Prospects in Swaziland - African Economic Outlook
Business Portal for Africa
 

Business Setup Procedures

Setting Up a Company Eswatini Sub-Saharan Africa
Procedures (number) 12.00 7.51
Time (days) 21.50 21.30

Source: Doing Business.

 
 
 

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Latest Update: May 2024