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Training to enhance Lesotho’s position in intra-regional trade

Letuka Chafotsa

MASERU — The Southern African Trade Hub (SATH) was in Lesotho this week to train business people and officers from various government ministries on aspects of easing intra-regional trade within the Southern African Development Commu­nity (Sadc) region.

SATH is a regional body which ensures that trade regulations among Sadc coun­tries are simplified.

SATH expert, Diane Thompson, trained participants on the Notification Author­ity, a body which governs procedures on trade issues in a given country and Entry Point, a call centre to be established un­der the wings of the Ministry of Trade.
The Technical Barriers to Trade Agree­ment was incorporated by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 1995 to fos­ter trade prospects among member states.
The phrase “technical barriers to trade” refers to the use of the domestic regula­tory processes as a means of protecting domestic producers.

The Agreement seeks to assure that mandatory product regulations, volun­tary product standards and conformity assessment procedures (procedures de­signed to test a product’s conformity with mandatory regulations or voluntary stan­dards) do not become unnecessary ob­stacles to international trade and are not used to obstruct trade.

It is in this light that the establish­ment of EP and NA are essential to facili­tate healthy trade among WTO members’ states.
“EP would result in substantial tarrif reductions, occasionally to zero,” said the expert Thompson.

“Through a parallel process of tarifica­tion, the trading system would be initi­ated and all non-tariff import restrictions will be converted to tariffs for transpar­ency, paving the way for their binding and gradual decline,” she added.

“EP handles information on technical regulations and standards adopted or proposed to be adopted and on conformi­ty assessment procedures,” further said Thompson.
Trade boosts economic growth and eco­nomic growth means more jobs, so it is hoped that EP and NA are tools for en­hancing economic growth in Lesotho.

Information flows and relationship be­tween WTO members’ states and Lesotho will be enhanced through establishment of EP and NA.

The training was attended by delegates from Ministry of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security and others from Ministry of Trade and Industry, Cooperatives and Marketing.
Local business people of Lesotho at­tended.

Thabo Qhesi from the Private Sector Foundation of Lesotho said the train­ing on NA and EP is valuable since these would help Lesotho business to establish markets outside the borders through lib­erated trade conditions.

Qhesi further asserted that, knowledge of trade prospects would enhance busi­ness, especially after they have estab­lished a database of suppliers.
“It will also allow us to seek finances elsewhere worldwide as information would be easily accessible,” he said.

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