Maseru, Lesotho...In November 2014, the formal opening of the Lesothos's first National Enquiry Point (NEP) took place. Under the World Trade Organization (WTO) Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement, member nations develop enquiry points to strengthen their legal and regulatory framework for standards in order to increase trade.
Over the last 14 months, the USAID Southern Africa Trade Hub project, under the USAID Partnership for Trade Facilitation Standards Alliance program and in close cooperation with the Lesotho Department of Standards and Quality Assurance (DQSA), undertook an ambitious collaboration to establish a National Enquiry Point.
During a visit by U.S. Embassy's Deputy Chief of Mission, Elizabeth Pelletreau, and the Regional Mission Director for USAID, Cheryl Anderson, Pelletreau said, "The launch of the Enquiry Point in Lesotho will benefit trade by identifying standards, technical regulations, and conformity procedures to improve regional and global market access. Local exporters and importers will now have a 'one-stop shop' where they can receive crucial information on laws, regulations, and quality standards for doing business with other WTO member countries."
Support provided to Lesotho forms an integral part of USAID's efforts to increase competitiveness, intra-regional trade, and food security in Southern Africa. Similar initiatives were undertaken in Malawi where a National Enquiry Point was formally launched in September 2014 and are currently underway in Zambia, where the NEP is expected to open in March 2015.