01 March 2024

Statement by the Chairperson of the SACU Ministers responsible for Trade, Honourable Popane Lebesa, Minister of Trade and Industry, Marketing and Cooperatives Lesotho at the signing ceremony of the USA-SACU trade, investment and development cooperation agreement (TIDCA)

16 July 2008, Washington, D.C., USA

Honourable Ambassador Schwab, US Trade Representative,
Honourable Ministers,
Executive Secretary of SACU,
Your Excellencies, Ambassadors of SACU Member States,
Senior Officials and delegates
Representatives of the Private Sector,
Members of the Press,
Ladies and Gentlemen

It is a great honour and pleasure for me to address you on this momentous occasion on behalf of the SACU Member States. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Government and People of the United States of America for their kind hospitality and the excellent arrangements made that enabled us to meet under such a friendly atmosphere.

As the incoming Chair of the SACU Ministers responsible for Trade I, would like to assure you all present here today that SACU is indeed honoured to enter into this agreement with the United States. We believe that this agreement represents an important milestone in our bilateral relationship, as it provides an enabling environment from which we can launch initiatives that will assure investors and traders of our mutual sincerity to create an environment that puts trade and investment between the two sides on a stable platform.

Your Excellencies, when we started our negotiations SACU based her negotiating strategy on the following principles:

We believe that the TIDCA definitely adheres to these principles. We see this agreement as an important step in reaching a long-term and sustainable trade relationship that will not only improve trade and investment flows between the two sides, but also stimulate economic growth, thereby contributing towards the eradication of poverty in the SACU region. It is for this reason that I as Chair of the SACU Ministers responsible for Trade will personally commit myself to ensuring that appropriate steps are taken that will ensure that the TIDCA is implemented during my term of office. In this regard, I will work with my counterpart in the US and my colleagues in SACU to ensure that the momentum that was created today is not lost and that we fully utilise the provisions and accompanying benefits of this agreement to our mutual advantage.

Dear Ambassador Schwab, Honourable Ministers and Colleagues, in conclusion let me once again reiterate SACU's commitment towards the process that we have launched today. We believe that the USA is an important partner in our determination to address the issues of underdevelopment, poverty and economic growth, not only in our region, but also on the African continent as a whole. It is for this reason that I am pleased to see the unwavering commitment of the US Government towards these objectives. I further believe that the TIDCA makes an important contribution in this regards.

With these few words I will conclude my remarks, hoping that this will be the start of a long-term and mutually beneficial relationship between our two sides.

Thank you