flag Lesotho Lesotho: Trade Profile

Foreign Trade in Figures

Though it is an landlocked country, foreign trade plays key role in Lesotho’s economy, representing 153% of GDP in 2020 (World Bank). The southern African nation is a member of the SACU (Southern African Customs Union) Free Trade Area and enjoys privileged access to markets in the EU (through the Economic Partnership Agreement and the SADC-EFTA Free Trade Agreement), the United States (African Growth Opportunity Act), Latin America (Mercosur), as well as Canada, Japan and the Scandinavian countries. The country's trade policy is designed to liberalise the economy and reach more export markets. However, long and complicated red tape and the large number of documents required can limit or even discourage exchanges. Lesotho mainly exports diamonds, textiles, wool, electrical machinery, cotton, flour and footwear; and its main imports include mineral fuels, fabrics, machinery, vehicles, food, cereal flours, cotton and medicines (International Trade Centre, 2020).

Lesotho's main customers are South Africa (33.4% of total exports), Belgium (32.7%), the United States (29.5%) and Germany (1%). Its main suppliers are South Africa (71.1% of total imports), China (8.5%), Taiwan (5.5%), Italy (3.8%) and India (3.3%) (International Trade Centre, 2020).

Lesotho's trade balance is structurally in deficit, a trend that is expected to continue. According to WTO data, in 2020 Lesotho collected USD 888 million from exports of goods but spent USD 1.8 billion in imports. The country imported services worth USD 341 million, while it exported USD 10 million. The trade deficit reached USD 713 million in 2020 (World Bank). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, global trade volumes declined sharply. Lesotho's exports of textiles and diamonds suffered from the fell in South Africa and United States demand.

Foreign Trade Indicators 20162017201820192020
Imports of Goods (million USD) 1,8272,1072,1852,0161,811
Exports of Goods (million USD) 9111,0281,2211,063888
Imports of Services (million USD) 277319433402341
Exports of Services (million USD) 3631302710
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 101-1n/a
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 1226-16n/a
Trade Balance (million USD) -731-799-710-719-713
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 136146145139n/a
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 91999493n/a
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 46475145n/a

Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank - Latest available data.

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To go further, check out our service Import controls and Export controls

To go further, check out our service Import Export Flows


Main Services

0.0 bn USD of services exported in 2018
0.5 bn USD of services imported in 2018

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data

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List of tariffs and local taxes that apply to your product on our service Customs duties


Trade Compliance

International Conventions
Member of World Trade Organisation
International Economic Cooperation
Member of South African Development Community (SADC)

Member of Southern African Customs Union (SACU)

Useful Resources
Lesotho Revenue Authority – LRA
National Organisation of Intellectual Property
You can contact the Ministry of Law and Constitutional Affairs by Email.

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Latest Update: September 2022