Lesotho (i/lɨˈsuːtuː/ li-soo-too), officially the Kingdom of Lesotho, is a landlocked country and enclave, completely surrounded by its only neighboring country, the Republic of South Africa. It is just over 30,000 km2 (11,583 sq mi) in size with a population of approximately 2,067,000. Its capital and largest city is Maseru. Lesotho is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The name Lesotho translates roughly into the land of the people who speak Sesotho. About 40% of the population live below the international poverty line of US $1.25 a day.
Lesotho’s economy is based on diamonds exported all over the world and water sold to South Africa, manufacturing, agriculture, livestock, and to some extent the earnings of laborers employed in South Africa. Lesotho also exports wool, mohair, clothing, and footwear. One of Levi’sjeans manufacturing facilities is located there. Also in Lesotho is one of Russell Athletic plants. Lesotho is geographically surrounded by South Africa and economically integrated with it as well. The majority of households subsist on farming or migrant labor, primarily miners who remain in South Africa for 3 to 9 months. The western lowlands form the main agricultural zone. Almost 50% of the population earns some income through crop cultivation or animal husbandry, with over half the country’s income coming from the agricultural sector.
Lesotho has taken advantage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) to become the largest exporter of garments to the US from sub-Saharan Africa. In mid 2004 its employment reached over 50,000 mainly female workers, marking the first time that manufacturing sector workers outnumbered government employees. In 2008 it exported 487 million dollars mainly to the U.S.A. Since 2004 employment in the sector was somehow reduced to about 45,000, in mid 2011, due to intense international competition in the garment sector. It was the largest formal sector employer in Lesotho in 2011.
- A Sustainable Goal – Millenium 20/2020 (johnbrianshannon.com)
- The finest hotel in Lesotho. (areyouwithcaz.wordpress.com)
- Statement at the Conclusion of an IMF Mission to Lesotho (appablog.wordpress.com)
MASERU — The trade agreement between the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) will help member countries like Lesotho fight the current economic recession, the Minister of Trade and Industry Popane Lebesa has said.
Lebesa was speaking at a two day workshop held in Maseru last week to inform local businesses about the benefits of the trade agreement signed between the two trading blocs.
The seminar which was attended by manufacturers, prospective exporters and farmers focused on trade opportunities created by the signing of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two trading blocs.
Experts from the EFTA countries were also present.
“This seminar has come at a very crucial time, when the economies of the world are hit by the global financial economic crisis. This is also a time when the countries are coming together to fight the effects of the global financial crisis and Lesotho is no exception” Lebesa said.
He said the private sector should take the opportunity and explore the markets created by the FTA.
“Producers, industrialists and farmers must take the opportunities brought by the rules of origin between the EFTA countries and SACU.”
EFTA secretariat Geir Ulle said: “We believe that businesses in Lesotho can benefit in the Free Trade Agreement.”
“Basotho must take an initiative and export into the EFTA countries. Many of your exporting competitors are not in agreement with the EFTA. This should provide a lot of opportunities for the exporters from Lesotho.”
Speaking at the same occasion Markus Stern of the Promotion Trade Services Switzerland said that Basotho must first research the market and the trends before they can export to the EFTA countries.
He said there is also great potential for development in eco-tourism, leather, textiles, handicrafts and many other products from which Lesotho can benefit.