Kanchi Batra, Business Editor, The Diplomatist conducted this interview with H.E. Mrs. Lineo Irene Molise-Mabusela, High Commissioner of the Kingdom of Lesotho to the Republic of India. During the interview, the High Commissioner highlighted numerous aspects, including the bilateral relations between Lesotho and India, trade, investment, tourism, and cultural cooperation between the two countries.
Diplomatist: You came to India during a crucial time amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. What goals had you set yourself when you arrived?
H.E. Mrs. Lineo Irene Molise-Mabusela: I arrived in India in January, 2020, and my goals were to strengthen the already existing cordial bilateral relations between the Kingdom of Lesotho and the Republic of India by intensifying our cooperation on Trade and Economy through interaction with Indian investors, thus increasing trade volumes between our two Sister Countries. These plans were, however, hampered by COVID-19 pandemic.
Diplomatist: What is the present scenario of trade with India and what are the major exports and imports of Lesotho?
H.E. Mrs. Lineo Irene Molise-Mabusela: Lesotho and India have a Joint Bilateral Commission of Cooperation which was signed in 2004 which covers Health, Education, Culture, Defence and Trade, however major exports between these two countries range from Packaged Medicaments, Cotton, and Rubber to Scrap-Iron amongst others.
Diplomatist: How attractive is Lesotho for Indian companies? What areas do you see the biggest room for growth and development in both Lesotho and India?
H.E. Mrs. Lineo Irene Molise-Mabusela: Lesotho has great potential for investment and business partnerships with Indian Companies. These range from good corporate income tax incentives on manufacturing profits to market accessibility through various duty-free and quota-free access to Lesotho-made products. The biggest room for growth and development is in Pharmaceuticals, Infrastructure Development, Hydropower/ Clean energy, Agriculture and Tourism.
Diplomatist: How important is the foreign investment to Lesotho’s economic growth? What kind of reforms has been made to attract Foreign Direct Investment?
H.E. Mrs. Lineo Irene Molise-Mabusela: Foreign Direct Investment is vital to Lesotho currently and in the future. To attract investors, the Government of Lesotho has undertaken great reform initiatives to make it easier to do business in Lesotho. The government of Lesotho introduced new e-licensing and e-registration platforms. It has also introduced new protocols for customs procedures which streamline importing and exporting.
Diplomatist: More and more people are beginning to enjoy the natural sights on offer in Lesotho. What steps have been taken to promote Lesotho to the Indian public to familiarize them with the richness of its culture?
H.E. Mrs. Lineo Irene Molise-Mabusela: We have embarked on a tourism promotion campaign by engaging various media platforms and doing promotional interviews about the Kingdom of Lesotho and what she has to offer as a destination of choice for tourism, trade and investment. We are also going to interact more with investors as India is beginning to open up post-COVID-19 pandemic.
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