MASERU – The German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and GIZ (Business Scouts for Development) have invited regional companies in a new export promotion programme aimed at presenting their products to the German and the larger European market.
The joint initiative is looking for companies either currently exporting, or looking to export goods or services from Southern Africa to international buyers.
By joining this programme, eligible companies and their products are set to tap into and be more visible on the European market and present their products to Germany and other European countries.
Company profiles are expected to be filed with the German Chamber of Commerce by June 21. According to a statement from the Chamber, participation in a digital trade pitches will be held from July 13 to 15, and companies will have the opportunity to make a quick and effective online presentation about their products to German and European importers.
“A good sales pitch will help convince buyers that your product, and you as their trade partner, stand out! The pitch is open to all industries and sectors.
“After successful participation in the trade fair pitch, you can participate in a month-long, hybrid and certified trade fair preparation programme, conducted by GIZ and the Association of the German Trade Fair Industry (AUMA).
You will be trained to join leading German and other European trade fairs with financial support from German development cooperation. A maximum of 30 companies can join the pitch programme,” a statement from the Chamber calling for pitches states.
Companies have further been called upon to sign up to the German Chamber supplier’s database, which will include selected companies only and is meant to help European buyers find the companies while allowing the Chamber to better plan events tailored to their needs.
Participation in future export trainings and matchmaking events and future training sessions will be organised to increase the companies’ knowledge of the European market, its regulations and requirements, and strategies to find buyers, as well as new events and activities in the future.
Commenting on this opportunity during an interview with Public Eye Managing Partner at RL Chartered Accountants, Robert Likhang, observed that the opportunity is similar to AGOA and that it is bound to enable Lesotho exports to reach Europe just like Lesotho products reach the USA under AGOA.
He said this is also an opportunity to re-strategise and ensure that Lesotho goes into this arrangement in a better way, learning from mistakes on how it approached the AGOA opportunity.
“The AGOA opportunity has not sufficiently benefited Basotho except to provide slave wages, and there is no empowerment of Lesotho citizens such as ensuring that there are linkages between foreign-owned factories with Lesotho citizens’ businesses, no local equity participation and insufficient participation of Lesotho citizens in leadership nor meaningful transfer of skills.
“If the arrangement is better designed to benefit Lesotho citizens, and designed to ensure sustainability even beyond the programme then we will have truly benefited,” Likhang said.
“Hopefully the citizens will be able to operate larger and better managed public companies so that equity is spread more and more people can benefit,” Likhang added.
He further stated that the country can promote the initiatives under this programme with grants and tax incentives to ensure no failure is experienced in accessing the European market.
Likhang noted, though, that other factors such as finance and human capital remain equally important.
Stakeholders in the government’s Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Lesotho National Development Corporation, as well as the Basotho Enterprise Development Corporation indicated they were not aware of the initiative when approached for comment.