Lesotho exporters to access EU market duty-free



MASERU – Lesotho registered exporters will now be able to sell their products in European Union (EU) market without paying import duty. The exporters will also be exempted from import restrictions which, among others, include quantity restrictions, thanks to the Registered Export System (REX) implemented by EU to assist development of least developed countries, including Lesotho, by creating market access for them in EU. The REX system was launched by Lesotho Revenue Authority in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade and Industry and was scheduled to start operating on March 18, 2020.

This was said by LRA Senior Manager Tariffs and Trade Mamokoala Pitso who described REX as an online system used for application for a certificate of origin of products manufactured in the country to be exported to EU. She said the new system will replace the Form A certificate of origin that will cease to be operational in May 4, 2020 to prove the origin of goods entering the EU market.

Pitso said a certificate of origin is used to prove the origin of goods so that the goods can be exported without payment of duties and without restrictions that apply on other goods exported to EU. She the EU has a generalised system of preference which is an agreement that was provided by EU with the intention to try to force the development of least developed countries like Lesotho.

“Under this dispensation, the certificate of origin is in the old system and issued by Ministry of Trade in a paper format which will now be replaced by Rex, which is an automated system now called the statement of origin. “Rex was developed by EU for each beneficiary country. Under the system, LRA will be given the responsibility to register exporters that will be called registered exporters. “The rules and trading principles and requirements that manufacturers need to observe for goods originating from Lesotho will still apply,” she said.

She noted the system allows Lesotho goods to get into EU markets without paying import duties and without any restrictions whether quantitative or whatsoever provided they are admissible, giving Lesotho the opportunity to expand its exports into the EU market if it takes the opportunity.

LRA Commissioner Client Services Mosuoe Mapetla speaking at the launch of the system noted that as of March 18, 2020 all Lesotho exporters to EU should start registering with LRA for their exported merchandise to be admissible into the EU with 0% payment of import duties.

Mapetla said the registration is a requirement for all exporters under the EU’s generalised system of preferences within which EU provides trade opportunities by removing import duty on goods exported to the EU from least developed countries that include Lesotho. “This launch of REX system is a huge milestone for LRA and the Ministry of Trade’s journey to modernise trade processes and to ensure that we make trade simpler and faster across the world.

“We cannot survive without trade since it is what grows our economy. Therefore, this launch answers to our modernisation agenda where we are trying to ensure that we remove antiquated manual systems and replace them with digital systems that can be done at any time of the day thus making business faster and more convenient,” he said. SADC Trade Related Facility programme co-ordinator Ramolise Rantsane said the system will benefit Lesotho exporters to EU.

He said Lesotho is one of the least developed and beneficiary countries to access opportunities to the preferential market granted by EU under the generalized system of preference where trade opportunities are created through the removal of import duty on goods exported to EU.

Rantsane said Lesotho signed the SADC Protocol on Trade and the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and the SADC EPA Group. He said the overall objective of the protocol is to improve participation of SADC Member States in regional and international trade in order to contribute to sustainable development in the SADC region.


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