PSFL in ease of doing business drive
THE Private Sector Foundation of Lesotho (PSFL) is inviting input from cross-border traders in a bid to find lasting solutions to challenges experienced in the movement of goods at the country’s borders.
PSFL Chief Executive Order, Thabo Qhesi made the call this week in an interview with the Lesotho Times after his return from the first International Forum for National Trade Facilitation Committees (NTFC) that was held in Geneva, Switzerland from 23 to 27 January.
He said they were taking the cue from the World Trade Centre’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) which seeks to ease movement of goods across national borders through reforming and harmonising customs systems, the PSFL says Lesotho should also play its part towards trade facilitation.
Trade Facilitation is defined as a systematic way of looking at how procedures and controls governing the movement of goods across national borders can be improved to reduce associated cost burdens and maximise efficiency while safeguarding legitimate regulatory objectives.
Mr Qhesi, said the TFA provided financial assistance to developing and least developed countries across different sectors to conform to the trade facilitation provisions.
The provisions included among others, reforming and modernising customs procedures, the development of project proposals to seek technical and financial assistance for the implementation of provisions, strengthening of NTFC’s, implementation of TFA provisions including through partnerships with other international organizations, support institutions/ national standards bodies to align with international standards and increasing transparency by supporting testing/ inspection services.
NTFCs are implementation bodies of the TFA member states.
Mr Qhesi said the NTFC forum was jointly organised by UNCTAD, ITC, World Bank Group, WCO, and WTO, with the objective of empowering the leaders of NTFCs and providing opportunities to access funding.
The TFA sets out new binding obligations mandating that member states implement a range of simplified procedures and documentary requirements for the clearance of goods by border agencies.
These commitments include the obligation in Article 23.2 that:
“Each member shall establish and/or maintain a national committee on trade facilitation or designate an existing mechanism to facilitate both domestic coordination and implementation of provisions of the Agreement.”
Mr Qhesi said little was being done by the country despite the availability of assistance for progress in trade facilitation.
“We are lagging behind in many areas yet we have always had these opportunities for assistance for a very long time.
“So, the PSFL humbly makes a special appeal to all businesses operating in Lesotho to forward their concerns in respect of cross-border trade to the secretariat of the PSFL. This will enable the PSFL to present those concerns at the NTFC for consideration,” Mr Qhesi said.
Meanwhile, the Director of Trade in the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Mary Motebang said a statement would soon be issued regarding the progress of NTFC.