PSFL bemoans lack of trade information

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Bereng Mpaki

THE Private Sector Foundation of Lesotho (PSFL) says it has concluded business deals with Indian companies in the areas of healthcare, pharmaceuticals and agriculture.

It has however, called on the Government of Lesotho to urgently avail trade information, saying failure to do so was militating against efforts to attract foreign direct investment into the country.

The PSFL which recently took part in the 9th edition of the ‘I for Afrika 2017’ initiative in India from the 13 to 15 November 2017, said the Indian business community was interested in investing in Lesotho’s pharmaceutical sector but had so far been unable to access relevant information on the sector.

‘I for Afrika’ was established in 1985 as a platform for the promotion, development and extension commerce, trade, and industrial links between India and African countries.

The platform does this by offering guidelines and useful trade tips, assisting and identifying African counterparts, assisting in making feasibility studies, project finance and transfer of technology among other things.

Speaking to the Lesotho Times upon his return from India, PSFL Chief Executive Officer, Thabo Qhesi, said a delegation of Indian companies was set to visit Lesotho next year with the purpose to establish business links with their Lesotho counterparts.

Mr Qhesi also revealed they had concluded some business deals with their Indian counterparts in the areas of healthcare, pharmaceuticals and agriculture.

He further explained a Memorandum of Understanding had been signed with Indian investors for the establishment of a hospital in Lesotho and advised the local business community to start preparing to collaborate with the latter.

Mr Qhesi also called on government to address issues of lack of access to sufficient business information.

“One challenge which has been raised by the Indian business community is lack of access to information about Lesotho on trade-related matters,” Mr Qhesi said.

“I can cite a typical example on the pharmaceutical sector especially when they want to know the requirements for establishing a pharmaceutical business in Lesotho. Such information was not available online.

“As the PSFL, we humbly request the Ministry of Health to avail information required in a user-friendly manner to enable setting up of pharmaceutical businesses in Lesotho and for transparency and predictability.”

He said there should be a common gateway through which all trade information on Lesotho can be easily accessed, especially by foreign investors not based in Lesotho.

Although the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC)’s role is to promote investment, its effectiveness has been questioned in the recent years.

This is also the case with the Lesotho Trade Portal, an online platform that was supported by the World Bank to provide a one stop point for all information on import and export matters in Lesotho.

When contacted for comment, the Information Officer at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Liahelo Nkaota, said foreign investors should approach the relevant ministries for additional information on areas of interest.

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