MCC Compact Signing Ceremony
Ambassador Brewer Remarks
Thursday, May 12, 2022
Thank you for your very kind introduction.
Please allow me to pay my respects to:
His Majesty King Letsie III,
The Right Honorable the Prime Minister Dr. Moeketsi Majoro and the First Lady,
Honorable President of the Senate,
Honorable Speaker of the National Assembly,
His Lordship the Chief Justice,
Honorable Deputy Prime Minister,
Honorable Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
His Lordship the President of the Court of Appeal,
Honorable Members of the Council of State,
Honorable Leader of the Opposition in Parliament,
Honorable Judges of the High Court and the Court of Appeal,
Their Excellencies, Heads of Diplomatic Missions and International Organizations,
Senior Government Officials,
Members of the Private Sector,
All protocols observed.
Lumelang and good afternoon bo – Mme le bo – Ntate. Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen, Thank you for joining us today for this very special event. The United States established our diplomatic presence in Lesotho in 1966, immediately after independence. We are one of Lesotho’s oldest partners. We are also one of its strongest and most supportive partners. Together, we have achieved great successes. That record will endure and continue. Our mutual vision for Lesotho’s development goals aims for consistent successes – today, tomorrow, next week, and in the years to come. As a long-term partner, we are focused on the horizon, a brighter and sustainable future.
Today’s compact signing between the United States Government and the Government of Lesotho marks an important milestone in reaching that future. The three pillars on which the compact is built – health systems strengthening, rural economic development, and business environment and technical assistance – complement areas of engagement where United States is already active. First, by focusing on health system strengthening, the new compact will add value to our legacy of deep engagement in the health sector. That history of support has led Lesotho to achieve great successes. We have achieved epidemic control against HIV/AIDS, with more than $630 million of support through PEPFAR over the past 15 years. We have active programs in maternal, newborn, and child health. We are responding to the COVID pandemic, with our Global COVID vaccine access program. And of course, the previous $362 million MCC compact, increased access to essential health services, while improving water supply. That record of success will endure. The new compact will enable Lesotho to establish a stronger public health foundation to build a brighter future.
Second, by focusing on rural economic development through irrigated horticulture, the new compact addresses a significant obstacle for rural communities. The United States Government has been active in rural communities in Lesotho for more than 50 years. Since 1967, more than twenty-six hundred Peace Corps Volunteers have worked to improve lives in rural communities across every district in Lesotho. Peace Corps Volunteers live in, build relationships in, and transfer skills in the rural communities in which they live for two years or more. The third pillar of the new compact focuses on improving the business environment and technical assistance. We seek to increase jobs through support for high-growth companies, expansion of business services, market development, investment facilitation, and access to finance, particularly for women entrepreneurs. Here too, on the business front, the United States has a broad record of engagement and success. AGOA trade preferences have built a thriving textile industry here. With more than $300 million in goods exported to the United States, Lesotho ranks third on the continent in AGOA export volumes. Our USAID Mission has an active program that promotes greater regional trade, opening new markets to Lesotho products. The U.S. is committed to building market-based opportunities in Lesotho – through AGOA exports, new regional markets, and support mechanisms from the new MCC compact.
I will conclude with another measure of success, one that is directly related to signing this new compact. The Government of Lesotho has demonstrated its commitment to meeting the strict governance and legislative criteria to enable this compact. This commitment resonates far beyond the MCC compact. These actions lay a foundation of good governance and respect for the rights of all citizens of the Mountain Kingdom. In particular, we applaud the recent passage of key legislation in the National Assembly, including the Laws of Lerotholi Amendment Bill and the Counter Domestic Violence Bill. The passage of these bills paves the way for concrete economic and social transformation, strengthening legal protections for women, youth, and other vulnerable groups. We have supported Lesotho’s officially mandated reforms process, backed by SADC. These reforms support good governance and human rights, including human trafficking. Specifically on human trafficking, the government has made important progress. We acknowledge the need for further progress, particularly more convictions against offenders and complicit officials. The record of progress – including further progress – in these areas of good governance is key to the success of this MCC compact. Moreover, it is key to the Government of Lesotho building a foundation for a brighter future for all its citizens.
Today’s signing is an incredibly important step, but it is just one step toward achieving the nation’s goals. More steps remain. But I can assure you, the United States is committed – as it has been for more than 56 years – to being a strong, enduring, and supportive partner to the people of Lesotho in reaching that brighter future. I now have the distinct honor to introduce Millennium Challenge Corporation Chief Executive Officer Alice Albright. CEO Albright has more than 30 years of international experience in the private, non-profit, and public sectors. Prior to MCC, Ms. Albright served as the CEO of the Global Partnership for Education. Previously, she held senior leadership positions at the Export-Import Bank of the United States and at the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations.