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Standards body in the works


Nthatuoa Koeshe

LESOTHO is in the process of establishing a Quality Standards Organisation that will be responsible of accrediting locally-manufactured products to ensure competitiveness and improved access to the regional and international markets.

Speaking at the launch of the Lesotho Coordinating Committee on Trade (LCCT), the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Tefo Mapesela said the government is working on improving the quality of local products to promote economic growth that is export and private sector competitive.

He explained that trade is an engine for economic growth and cuts across all sectors making critical the proper coordination of development activities including the trade policy, export growth and sustainable development.

“The establishment of a Quality Standards body will ensure that local manufacturers meet set standards that will help to improve quality of their products and help them to penetrate new markets,” Mr Mapesela said.

The LCCT seeks to effectively and efficiently implement the Trade Facilitation Agreement that is expected to improve Lesotho’s competitiveness to trade across borders and help reduce export costs.

Among other responsibilities, the committee will spearhead the review of trade-related policies, which are currently fragmented to the detriment to Lesotho’s effective participation in international trade.

Through a support grant from the European Union- Southern Africa Development Community Trade Related Facility, the Trade Ministry is developing a comprehensive Trade policy that will among other benefits, enable the ministry to implement the SADC Trade Protocol and the EU-SADC Economic Partnership Agreements.

“It is my expectation that this first committee meeting will map a way forward on how to activate and improve the performance of sub committees that will work closely with LCCT.”

He emphasised the need for the committee to explore strategies that can further improve sustained businesses with the capacity to penetrate markets beyond Lesotho through initiatives that can ensure viable financing arrangements such as establishing a Business Development Fund. The fund, he said would be more beneficial to small enterprises and upcoming businesses if its requirements are minimal.

“I also hope you will look at how we can continue to develop the value chains and help enhance interactions that would facilitate enhanced linkages responsive to diverse market needs.”

He said efficient service delivery is the core of economic growth, particularly in payment systems, as this would promote development of the private sector.

Mr Mapesela said the establishment of the standard body that will accredit Lesotho made products will improve the competitiveness of local manufacturing sector and enhance production capacity to meet local supply needs while reducing dependency on imported goods.

“Lesotho has abundant water but many entrepreneurs are unable to sell their products beyond Lesotho,” Mr Mapesela said, adding this was due to lack of operational standards’ regulations which, if they were in place, would make Lesotho bottled water acceptable on the international market and also support growth of the sector.


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