Policy & History

U.S.-Lesotho Relations

The United States established diplomatic relations with Lesotho in 1966, following its independence from the United Kingdom. Since independence, Lesotho and the United States have had productive bilateral relations. U.S. foreign policy priorities in Lesotho focus on achieving the development of a stable, prosperous, and healthy country.

Key Areas

U.S. partnership with Lesotho focuses on reversing the devastating HIV/AIDS pandemic and promoting economic development. The Global Health Initiative, through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief program in Lesotho, complements a significant HIV/AIDS effort by the Government of Lesotho and other donors, including U.S. nongovernmental organizations and universities. The Government of Lesotho has demonstrated substantial political will to fight HIV/AIDS and has undertaken many efforts to address the pandemic.

The $362.5 million Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact, concluded in September 2013, helped develop Lesotho’s health care and water infrastructure and promoting private sector development. U.S. assistance also promotes trade facilitation, renewable energy development, good governance, and disaster risk reduction through sustainable agricultural practices.

Bilateral Economic Relations

The Government of Lesotho encourages greater U.S. participation in commercial life and welcomes interest from potential U.S. investors and suppliers. Lesotho is eligible for preferential trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The top U.S. export category to Lesotho is cotton and yarn. The primary U.S. imports from Lesotho are knit apparel and woven apparel. The country belongs to the Southern African Customs Union, which has signed a trade, investment, and development cooperative agreement (TIDCA) with the United States. The TIDCA establishes a forum for consultative discussions, cooperative work, and possible agreements on a wide range of trade issues, with a special focus on customs and trade facilitation, technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and trade and investment promotion.

Shared Affiliations

Lesotho and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization. Additionally, Lesotho is a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Southern African Customs Union (SACU), and the African Union (AU).

History of the U.S. and Lesotho

The American people have a long and close relationship with the Basotho people. The U.S. Embassy in Lesotho is committed to working closely with the people of Lesotho to maintain and strengthen this relationship. In 2016, The U.S. Embassy celebrated 50 Years of Partnership between the United States and Lesotho, the same year the Mountain Kingdom celebrated its 50 years of independence from Britain. Lesotho also maintains diplomatic presence in the United State through the Embassy in Washington, D.C.