WORLD Trade Organisation Director-General Roberto Azevêdo says Lesotho should foster the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises to ensure sustainable economic development.
Mr Azevêdo made the remarks during a two-day visit to Lesotho this week to discuss the implementation of recent WTO agreements and assess the areas the intergovernmental agency could support in terms of growth and development.
He described the visit, which ended yesterday, as productive and fruitful after meeting Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing, Trade and Industry Minister Joshua Setipa and his representative of Foreign Affairs Minister among other officials.
“I have been very impressed by my conversations here that were very productive. We shared views about opportunities from the WTO both in terms of trade regulation and technical cooperation,” he said.
“We talked about the role played by the small to medium-sized enterprises in the market, on how we can make them benefit or participate a lot more in trade since they are often the backbone of the economy.”
Mr Azevedo added: “In some developing economies the small to medium-sized enterprises account for about 90 percent of trade. That is very huge, and if they are left out of trade then we are missing out on a big opportunity in the world market.
“So we need to find a way to make the sector play a meaningful role in trade.”
He also noted that Lesotho needed to diversify its products and markets.
“We also talked about the need to find ways of helping Lesotho diversify its products and markets,” said Mr Azevedo.
“The main goal of the WTO is to help countries to make trade work for them. That is what we are doing in small economies like Lesotho where the domestic market is not big enough to tap into the global opportunities.
Mr Azevedo also visited a commercial farming project called Alosang Enterprise which benefited from the support of a WTO-sponsored initiative, the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF).
EIF is a multi-donor program is a multi-donor programme, which helps least-developed countries play a more active role in the global trading system.
Mr Azevedo said he was pleasantly surprised by the Alosang Enterprise, project which produces fresh vegetables, adding that it demonstrated good organisation and a high emphasis on hygiene.
He added that Lesotho was strategically placed with its climate to capitalise on