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The Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr. Joshua Setipa announced, during a press conference on Friday that Lesotho will continue being party to Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) saving 40 000 jobs.

He said he was informed through a telephone conversation with one of the United States Officials that following a United States (US) Council meeting on December 13, Lesotho's eligibility as a beneficiary under AGOA has not changed. 

He narrated that in the past months he received a letter from America about issues surrounding AGOA eligibility for Lesotho and the government had to convince the international community that it is working hard to put things right as inclusive economic development is one of the coalition government's priorities.

However, Mr. Setipa noted that the US is not backing down on its demands that need to be addressed by the government, and the main three are the issue of detained soldiers who the US wants released if there is no case against them, secondly the amnesty Bill which is said to be too broad and covers even those individuals who are supposed to have their day in court, and thirdly to have investigations into the death of Brigadier Maaparankoe Mahao kick started.

The Minister also confirmed that the second compact of the Millienium Challenge Corporation has been deferred until the next US board meeting in March next year, adding that he is to negotiate free trade with America as soon as possible.

AGOA provides duty-free trading between Lesotho and America. About 40 000 people in Lesotho depend directly on it while about 120 000 citizens get indirect benefits.

Source: LENA 16/12/2016

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