Lesotho - Italy
Relations between Italy and Lesotho are not quantitatively intense but they are excellent from the qualitative point of view. In addition to being in agreement on major international issues, Lesotho has often supported Italian candidates and maintains an Embassy in Rome, an Honorary Consulate General in Venice and an Honorary Consulate in Nuoro.
Economic, financial and commercial relations
The commercial trade between Italy and Lesotho is maintained on very modest levels and shows a steady positive balance for Italy. Compared with exports of EUR 1,100,686 in 2000, our country imported goods valued at EUR 53,998 for an overall foreign trade balance of EUR 1,154,686. In 2001 Italy imported EUR 337,372 worth of goods from Lesotho and exported goods valued at 1,100,686, for an overall foreign trade balance of EUR 438,000.
In the initial ten months of 2002, foreign trade between the two countries — equal to EUR 1,409,207 — concerned Italian exports exclusively. Italy exports machinery and non-electrical apparatus, synthetic fabrics, mining equipment, bolts, screws and chemical–pharmaceutical products, and imports flowers and live plants, fresh and frozen fish, wheat flour and pasta, meat extracts, food oils and fats, textile products, sewn objects and synthetics.
The Italian firm Impregilo is head of an international consortium building a system of dams for the LHWP (Lesotho Highlands Water Project), which will serve to collect the mountain water to then supply water and hydroelectric energy. There are no bilateral understandings on the application of multilateral Paris Club agreements. SACE currently ranks Lesotho in the sixth risk category, and in class B. Its attitude toward such countries departs from the assumption that it is necessary to verify — based on the political and/or economic–financial situation of each individual country — the advisability of setting specific restrictions for certain kinds of operations. On these bases, with reference to Lesotho, in the short-term only bank-guaranteed, private sector enterprises are insurable, while for the medium and long terms assessment is limited to operations guaranteed by third countries.
Current commitments to Lesotho amount to EUR 24.45m and are entirely MLT (à moyen et long terme). The operations currently under way concern three projects guaranteed in 1998, two of which are guaranteed for “credit risk” (EUR 13.3m). To date repayments (EUR 3.4m) have been made regularly and without delay.
Italian community, and Lesotho Community in Italy, and migration issues
There are currently approximately 30 Italian nationals working in Lesotho, almost all of whom are employed by the firm Impregilo and working on the Lesotho Highlands Water Project. Emigration toward Italy is practically non-existent, as Lesotho nationals seek to emigrate either to South Africa or across the ocean to the former colonial power, Great Britain, or else toward Ireland, a country with which traditionally strong bonds exist.