The National University of Lesotho through the Faculty of Law has been chosen out of 136 universities across the world to be the World Trade Organization Chair for four years. The Chairs Program was initiated in 2010 to expand the capacity of academic and research institutions in the developing world. It supports activities under three main pillars thus research activities, curriculum development, and outreach.
At the launching of the National University of Lesotho World Trade Organization Chair on July 13, 2022, the Lesotho Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr. Thabiso Molapo, said that currently, the key trade policy priority areas include Regional Integration and Export Competitiveness, Trade in Services, Trade Facilitation as well as Trade and Sustainable Development. He congratulated the National University for being awarded the WTO Chair, saying he is pleased with this outcome as he endorsed the initiative last year.
He noted that his ministry pledges its continued support throughout the NUL Chairmanship, saying this will benefit other ministries and will have a lot to gain from the placement of this prestigious chair. He stressed that the capacitation of the University in research will ultimately benefit the government of Lesotho, particularly the Ministry of Trade and the private sector as they will have the expertise to tap into policy formulation and innovation.
On the same note, NUL WTO Chairholder, Assoc. Prof. Motlamelle Kapa said as the National University of Lesotho (NUL) they are honored to have been selected as a new Chair in Phase III of the WTO Chairs Program. He noted that this is a notable program and NUL is honored to have been trusted to join the network. “We worked hard to be selected, carefully selecting the pertinent issues to include in our work program, consulting stakeholders to secure their inputs and support, and building a dedicated team that is equipped to advance Research, Curriculum Development, and outreach in international trade in Lesotho,” he stressed.
Associate Professor Kapa said the NUL WTO Chair Programme consists of a very competent and dedicated team that has diverse knowledge and skills in trade facilitation under the auspices of the WTO TFA, the nexus between trade and the environment, sustainable development, and e-commerce law. The WTO Deputy Director General, H.E. Xiangchen Zhang said the WTO Chairs program is a key component of the WTO’s technical assistance activities. ‘The Chairs Programme Network affords opportunities for mutual learning given that the WTO and the Chairs look at the same issues from different perspectives,’ he said. He noted that the WTO Chairs’ engagement in joint projects and activities has had an impact not only on the national level but also at regional and cross-regional levels. He noted that it is important for academic research for WTO negotiations, underlining the need for more applied research and policy advice to governments and other stakeholders. He, therefore, congratulated NUL and encouraged them to continue to develop a wide collaborative network with domestic and foreign research institutions within and outside their country.
Also speaking, the Secretary-General of Lesotho Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Mr. Fako Hakane expressed joy that NUL has been granted this WTO Chair, saying as the Chair they have a development mandate which the private sector shall benefit from. He noted that these skills should contribute towards assisting LCCI to be more productive, competitive, and competent to trade more widely. He, therefore, said LCCI is looking forward to engaging with the WTO Chair on capacity building for micro, small, and medium enterprises in Lesotho, especially youth and women-owned enterprises. He noted that the Chair has an outreach mandate, and access to WTO expertise has been exclusive enjoyment of the government through technical assistance programs.
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