Lesotho joined the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in 1994. The organization promotes economic growth and cooperation among its 14 member states. The kingdom also participates with South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and Swaziland, in the South African Customs Union (SACU) to encourage free trade and economic exchange. Unfortunately, most SACU members are similarly underdeveloped. In 2000 the import of goods and services equaled approximately US$780 million. The net foreign direct investment was US$196 million.
The main exports are textiles (clothing and footwear), raw wool and mohair, agricultural produce (corn, wheat, pulses, sorghum, barley), livestock (cattle, sheep, and goats, and building materials (especially ceramics). The
|Exchange rates: Lesotho|
|maloti per US$1|
|Note: The Lesotho loti is at par with the South African rand which is also legal tender; maloti is the plural form of loti.|
|SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].|
SACU accounts for 65 percent of export trade, with North America (34 percent), and the European Union (.07 percent) following. The primary imports include cereals, food ingredients, machinery, medical supplies, and oil and petroleum products. As with exports, the major import trading partners are the SACU (90 percent), Asia (7.4 percent), and the European Union (1.5 percent). There are no export controls except for diamonds, which require a license.