THE government of Lesotho has announced restrictions on importation of tomatoes, green beans and peppers effective February 1. This is a bold step that has earned the government praises from local producers and criticism from chain stores retailers who worry of being forced to stock from local producers only and consumers who are deprived of right of choice.
Feb. 5, 2021
2 min read
The pros and cons of imports ban
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This is not so significant as to raise eyebrows of trading partner countries, but it is closer to bordering on the violation of the concept of free trade and tantamount to protectionism if it is not motivated by health or security concerns of Lesotho.
The concept of free trade is based on a need to provide people, especially the poor, with high quality and cheaper products as well as a variety from which to make their choice.
The question is whether the ban on imports of the stated vegetables also applies to banning of such products from being exported.
We are leaving in globalisation period where everyone is permitted to trade wherever he or she wishes, that means states that are members or that subscribe to the principles of the founding principles of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) are not expected to interfere with free trade but must ensure that imports and exports have free movement between countries.
The era of globalisation means the world is turned into a single market where everyone is free to compete at the global level through export or import.
The ban on tomatoes, green beans and peppers may look good as a temporary policy but it may harm the same producers Lesotho is trying to protect by closing them away from the rest of the world and killing their competitive urge, condoning their undermining of quality in their production, storing, packaging and delivery of their products to consumers as well as cutting their international networks. They will eventually take consumers for granted rather than producing to satisfy consumers’ needs.
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There is no doubt that free trade through importing and exporting of products and services has more benefits than protectionism. Rather than protecting the small farmers, Lesotho should help them improve in order to compete locally and internationally.
Freedom to import and export will help them increase their profit margins as they can compare whether to produce or import at lower costs. At the end of the day, the ultimate objective is to please the consumer who needs products that are of value for money, that are of high health standard, quality and efficiently supplied, and above all, where one has a liberty of choice from a variety of products.