Lesotho stands to benefit from the shift in the world’s thinking, not least because of its manufacturing capability as a result of the US African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), which allows duty-free imports from Africa into the US and has helped create a small but thriving textile and apparel industry. This provides more than 40,000 jobs, 70% of which are filled by women, and has contributed significantly to economic activity in the mountain kingdom. As a result, Lesotho has over the past 20 years been able to compete with the likes of Bangladesh, Cambodia and Vietnam on costs. However, this cost advantage is vulnerable to any change in US regulations, especially the upcoming Agoa review in 2025. As Lesotho looks to reform and break the mould of slow growth, poor governance and a legacy of political instability, Majoro has come in at an odd — yet opportune — time. Lesotho need not reinvent the wheel. In spite of the pandemic, the fundamentals that have driven business in the past — profit, loss, capital, tech, skills, markets — have not changed. For Lesotho, success should be about enabling far-reaching systemic changes in the way citizens go about their business and government operates. To do so, however, Lesotho’s policymakers will have to put in place business conditions that comply with the new ABC (anywhere but China) approach.
SOURCE: BUSINESS DAY LIVE