The Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA), with the financial assistance of European Union (EU), last week completed two projects meant to assist Lesotho to comply with commitments made in the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).
The two projects are: development of a comprehensive mechanism for managing rules of origin, and design of a tariff rate proportion management and monitoring mechanism. They were undertaken through the financial assistance of the European Union (EU) under the auspices of the Southern African Development Community Trade Related Facility (SADC TRF).
According to a project consultant from GPM Consulting, Marcel Ratṧiu, both projects are about compliance, making Lesotho to comply with the obligations of signed free trade agreements. This he said will be good for Lesotho in the sense that goods exported from Lesotho will be certified as such and the benefits that come with it will be for Lesotho directly.
He said the project specifically has established new processes and procedures aimed at ensuring this happens and when it does, it is done smoothly. One of the documents or mechanisms that will help in this regard is a Certificate of Origin (CO). This is a document declaring the country in which a commodity or good is manufactured. The certificate of origin contains information regarding the product, its destination, and the country of export. Required by many treaty agreements for cross-border trade, the CO is essential because it helps determine whether certain goods are eligible for import, or whether goods are subject to duties.
“The private sector is equally equipped as they are the ones who mainly trade internationally. The operational tools for all stakeholders to work together were established to make sure that the private sector benefits. We hope the results of the project can improve trading environment for companies based in Lesotho,” Ratṧiu said.
Speaking on behalf of the LRA Commissioner General, ‘Makali Lepholisi stated that Lesotho is a signatory to various trade agreements and is therefore responsible for implementing the commitments under all those including rules of origin related obligations.
She said LRA wanted to improve the administration of rules of origin in order to promote compliance with obligations of the trade regimes, at the same time ensuring that Lesotho’s exporters benefit optimally from the trade regimes.
She further indicated that they are confident that the results of these projects will bring forth various benefits to both the organization and the country. Among the benefits are that registration of exporters will reduce transaction based document check thus improving turnaround for export declarations, as well as improve process flow for assurance of certificate of origin and improved risk management capability regarding the origin of goods.