By Kefiloe Kajane
The ministry of trade and industry, in partnership with the World Bank, USAID Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hub, on Thursday convened to discuss the current challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic and emerging opportunities as well as propose priority reforms to enhance competitiveness and attract new investments into the sector.
Ministry of trade and industry principal secretary Maile Masoebe indicated that the export manufacturing value chain is one of the priority sectors identified by the government of Lesotho.
Masoebe said accelerated implementation of priority reforms are critical for stimulating economic recovery, increasing investment and enabling job creation.
The minister of trade and industry Thabiso Molapo said, the textile and apparel industry has been adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated lockdowns with firms experiencing declining or canceled orders, revenue losses and workers being retrenched or transferred to short-term contracts.
He indicated that the pandemic has exposed underlying challenges that are stifling the export competitiveness of the sector which he said will need to be addressed swiftly in order to benefit from the current transformation of the global manufacturing value chains.
“We thank our key supporters, as World Bank has prioritized support for export manufacturing competitiveness through private sector competitiveness and economic diversification and the job platform.
“The USAID and Investment Hub have provided continued support in strengthening market linkages for Lesotho. We are grateful that they took the lead in this great discussion on economic challenges and to post interventions,” he said.
The Ambassador of the United States of America Rebecca E. Gonzales said during the current financial year, the Trade Hub has prioritised certain products to support diversification of exports out of Lesotho, which are high value garments, PPE, leather products, medicinal products, natural spring water.
She said this was achieved by working with trade providers such as Lesotho National Development Cooperation, Lesotho Textile Exporters Association and Lesotho Chambers of Commerce industry for example.
She indicated that The Trade Hub has helped dozens of producers across the kingdom to help participate in digital and physical market linkage events to showcase the incredible rage of local products.
PMDU head Chaba Mokuku commended USAID and Investment Hub for their commitment to supporting the economic recovery efforts of Lesotho.
He indicated that the economy of Lesotho has been affected by Covid-19 like other countries and therefore that calls for re-thinking, re-strategizing and re-drawing economic policy regimes that is fragile.
“Although Covid-19 has hit our economy hard, we remain well positioned to accelerate implementation of economic and investment reforms,” he said.