MASERU — The key to penetrating international markets lies in setting up a bureau of standards to monitor all goods produced locally, according to trade principal secretary Teleko Ramotsoari.
Ramotsoari told stakeholders at a workshop in Maseru on Wednesday that the national standards or technical regulations will ensure small industries sell safe products and improve exports.
Ramotsoari made the remarks as Lesotho celebrated World Standards Day on Wednesday.
Lesotho does not currently have its own bureau of standards.
Local manufacturers have to rely on countries such as South Africa and Botswana for the service.
“If standards and regulations are properly instituted they can be used to meet legitimate needs of our consumers,” Ramotsoari said.
“They can also help us penetrate regional and international markets.”
The principal secretary said there was need for Lesotho to have proper assessment structures in place to promote the country’s export-led growth.
Most Western countries insist that products imported into their countries must first meet internationally accepted standards.
“We need to build a proper conformity assessment infrastructure not only in the area of food but also in the rest of traded goods and services so that we can contribute meaningfully to the alleviation of poverty through export-led growth,” Ramotsoari said.
He said in the modern international trade arena exporters can only enter and maintain their market share if they supply products which satisfy the technical requirements set by importing countries.
To ensure the safety of their consumers importing countries normally impose a set of standards and safety measures on locally produced goods.
Ramotsoari said the country needs to streamline the process to produce national standards or technical regulations to assist small industries to sell safe products and to explore the possibilities of exporting to other markets.
In an interview with the Sunday Express, the principal standards officer in the trade ministry, Motjoka Makara, said plans to come up with a Standards Bill are at an advanced stage.
The microbiology laboratory in Maseru was not being fully utilised because it is not accredited.
There are plans to fully accredit the laboratory over the next 12 to 18 months, Makara said.
“We are supposed to have testing facilities to ascertain that what is produced is safe for consumers,” Makara said.
“This will increase confidence in the local products.”