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    Progress in Lesotho on the Integrated Framework

     

     
     
    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 1/2003

    How does cooperation for trade development in LDCs work in practice?

    The Government of Lesotho is forging ahead to integrate into the global economy through the development of pro-poor trade policies. At a national conference in February 2003, government representatives, UN agencies, private sector, civil society and development partners discussed recommendations of the Diagnostic Trade Integration Study (DTIS). The aim was to enhance trade capacity and pro-poor reforms, and strengthen linkages of the Integrated Framework for Trade-related Technical Assistance (IF) to the national vision and poverty reduction strategy processes.

    Though Lesotho is one of the poorest countries in the world - with the challenge of food insecurity compounded by the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic - the country has a unique opportunity to promote trade as a means to address economic development and alleviate poverty. As one of the pilot countries for the new IF, the Government of Lesotho has promoted national ownership of the trade agenda through a participatory approach to development. It has also worked to create an enabling environment to promote private-sector development.

    The IF process officially began in Maseru, Lesotho in March 2002, where the six core agencies of the IF - the International Monetary Fund (IMF), ITC, UNCTAD, UN Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank and WTO - launched the DTIS. The DTIS analyses trade challenges and external competitiveness, and prioritizes technical assistance with the overall aim of promoting the integration of LDCs into the global economy. The World Bank has been responsible for the DTIS, which was undertaken by a group of local and international consultants in collaboration with the lead ministry, the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Marketing.

    UNDP has served as a national coordinator representing the core IF agencies on the National Steering Committee and managing the various missions in support of the DTIS. UNDP also supports the Government by facilitating working sessions to empower national stakeholders to take charge of the ongoing process.

    At the national conference to present DTIS recommendations, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Marketing, Mr. Mpho Malie, expressed gratitude to all UN agencies for their extensive collaboration with donors, development partners, and other ministries in order to support a trade agenda to alleviate poverty. Conference participants noted that the Africa Growth and Opportunities Act had led to the creation of 10,000 new jobs in 2002, bringing to over 45,000 the number of workers in the textile and garment sector.

    Despite this success, the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Ms. Scholastica Kimaryo, stressed that development is challenged by HIV/AIDS. Over 90% of those employed in urban, foreign-owned factories are women from rural areas, whose increased risk of exposure to the HIV/AIDS pandemic poses social challenges alongside this economic development.

    The participatory nature of the IF process provides the chance for its pro-poor initiatives to be integrated in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Lesotho.

    Mandisa Mashologu is Poverty Reduction Adviser, UNDP Lesotho. She can be contacted at mandisa.mashologu@undp.org