Country Information - Lesotho
ECONOMIC BACKGROUNDSmall, landlocked, and mountainous, Lesotho's primary natural resource is water. Its economy is based on subsistence agriculture, livestock, remittances from miners employed in South Africa, and a rapidly growing apparel-assembly sector. The number of mineworkers has declined steadily over the past several years. A small manufacturing base depends largely on farm products that support the milling, canning, leather, and jute industries. Agricultural products are exported primarily to South Africa. Proceeds from membership in a common customs union with South Africa form the majority of government revenue. Although drought has decreased agricultural activity over the past few years, completion of a major hydropower facility in January 1998 now permits the sale of water to South Africa, generating royalties for Lesotho.
The pace of privatisation has increased in recent years. In December 1999, the government embarked on a nine-month IMF staff-monitored program aimed at structural adjustment and stabilization of macroeconomic fundamentals. The government is in the process of applying for a three-year successor program with the IMF under its Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility. Lesotho has a marked inequality in income distribution and serious unemployment/underemployment problems that will not yield to short-run solutions. (World Factbook, 2002)
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BI-LATERAL TRADE OVERVIEWBi-lateral trade between the United States and Lesotho is characterised by the latter country's rapid expansion of its exports to the US. In 2001, Lesotho recorded a $ 215 million trade surplus with the U.S., double that of two years previously. By the end of 2002, this had risen further to $ 319 million. Lesotho imports only a very small amount of goods from the U.S.
The U.S. has traditionally provided a ready market for Lesotho's exports of apparel, which have been strongly bolstered by the advent of the AGOA. In 2001 and 2002, 99% of Lesotho's exports fell into the 'textiles and apparel' category, of which 98% were AGOA-eligible, a feat achieved by no other AGOA-eligible country (see link to Country Trade Profile below). Due to the highly concentrated nature of Lesotho's exports, the country has the distinction of having virtually 100% of its exports falling under AGOA.
However, Lesotho's classified status as a 'Lesser Developed Country' provides the country with a window of opportunity (until September 30, 2004) to utilise third country textile inputs for its AGOA-eligible exports. The country currently has limited textile production capacity (its production and exports consisting almost exclusively of ready-made garments), which means that in the absence of a major expansion of textile production capacity prior to September 2004, it will have to rely on sourcing its textiles from its regional trade partners, such as South Africa. This in all likelihood will provide a major boost to the South African textile industry.
Detailed bilateral trade data for this country, disaggregated by industry sector, can be accessed by following the link below. Aggregate data featuring all AGOA-eligible countries is updated on this website as soon as new data is published, including ranked AGOA / non-AGOA trade, aggregate trade by industry sector as well as the latest apparel trade data.
Visit Lesotho's new apparel export website at this link.
Click here for Detailed Trade Profile
21 AGOA FORUM 2013: Ethiopia will host the 2013 US-Africa AGOA Forum. AGOA.info has been informed that the Forum will not take place as envisaged on 28 June - 1 July, but at a later date. According to information available to AGOA.info, these dates will be 12-13 August 2013. The theme for this year’s Forum is “Trade and Technology for sustained change”“
21 December 2012: Guinea-Bissau and Mali lose AGOA eligibility
APRIL 2013: Monthly data has been updated to include February 2013 data, quarterly includes full year 2012 data.
New US strategy towards Africa: White House Factsheet on new strategy towards Africa, plus overview of past US engagement with Africa. Click here for the file and this link for a summary article.
02 August 2012: Bill to extend third country fabric provision passes Congress Download the House of Reps. Bill at this link
South Sudan declared AGOA-eligible on 26 March 2012. Earlier, Cote d'Ivoire, Niger and Gambia declared AGOA eligible on 25 October 2011. See news item, presidential declaration and trade overview at this link (S Sudan) and here (others).
US GSP extended and GSP benefits to be applied retrospectively for the year 2011 since expiry of previous GSP. See AGOA.info legal documents section at the following link.
AGOA at 10: Reflections on US-Africa trade with a focus on SACU: Tralac Working Paper that can be downloaded at this
December 2010: The Democratic Republic of Congo loses its AGOA eligibility status. See proclamation here (pdf download available at this link
ITC investigation of textiles and apparel: Further details at this link
AGOA IV – Changes to AGOA explained
For disaggregated trade data covering each AGOA country, follow the relevant link in the Country Sections (left column) or click here.
For detailed AGOA maps click here