WTO Director-General Roberto AzevÍdo visited Maseru, Lesotho, today to discuss the implementation of recent WTO agreements and how the organization can keep on supporting growth and development in Lesotho in the years ahead. He met with His Majesty King Letsie III, as well as the Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing, the Minister of Trade and Industry Joshua Setipa, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs Tlohang Sekhamane.
The Director-General said:
"Helping Least Developed Countries (LDCs) like Lesotho to compete and benefit from trade is a central part of our work. In recent years, the WTO has taken further steps in that direction, negotiating new trade deals which can help Lesotho's economic development.
"For example, the WTO's Trade Facilitation Agreement will help a more diverse group of companies to export by reducing the time, cost and bureaucracy involved in moving goods across borders. For a landlocked country like Lesotho, this diversification could be particularly important. It is very encouraging that Lesotho has ratified this Agreement, and is now laying the foundations for these benefits to become a reality.
"Further important outcomes were agreed at our Ministerial Conference in Nairobi last December. WTO members delivered a set of decisions which can facilitate opportunities for LDCs' export of goods and services. In addition WTO members agreed to eliminate agricultural export subsidies. This will helptolevel the playing field in agriculture markets to the benefit of farmers and exporters in Lesotho and other LDCs. In fact, these negotiations were chaired by Lesotho's Minister of Trade and Industry, Joshua Setipa, whose able leadership was a big factor in this success.
"Lesotho is a small country geographically, but it has a big voice in the WTO. I look forward to continuing to build our partnership in the years ahead."
During the visit the Director-General also visited a project which benefits from the support of a WTO-sponsored initiative, the Enhanced Integrated Framework. The project aims to build Lesotho's capacity to produce and market high value fresh fruit and vegetables.