U.S. Relations With Lesotho

Bureau of African Affairs
Fact Sheet
July 27, 2018


More information about Lesotho is available on the Lesotho Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.

U.S.-LESOTHO RELATIONS

The United States established diplomatic relations with Lesotho in 1966, immediately following its independence from the United Kingdom. Post-independence, the country has seen a mix of rule by decree, coups, military government, and democratically elected government. Lesotho is a constitutional monarchy that faces challenges including poverty, income inequality, and one of the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rates in the world. It is currently governed by a four-party coalition, following the third election in five years in June 2017. 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.

U.S. Assistance to Lesotho

U.S. assistance to Lesotho focuses on reversing the devastating HIV/AIDS pandemic and promoting economic development. Since 2006, the US government, through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), has committed more than $380 million to the bilateral HIV response in Lesotho. The clinical priorities for PEPFAR Lesotho include: providing voluntary medical male circumcision services; advancing the prevention of mother to child transmission program; increasing the number of newly-initiated clients on ART; improving the linkages between HIV testing and counseling and care and treatment; and retaining HIV positive individuals through the continuum of services. PEPFAR also remains committed to support health system strengthening and governance; particularly in laboratory services, strategic information, human resources, and supply chain management.

The Government of Lesotho has demonstrated substantial political will to fight HIV/AIDS and has undertaken many efforts to address the pandemic. In April 2016, Lesotho became the first country in Africa to launch “Test and Treat,” ensuring that all those who test HIV positive are immediately eligible to begin treatment. Lesotho has made great strides under PEPFAR and is currently on track to achieve UNAIDS’ “90-90-90” definition of epidemic control by 2020. Under this goal, 90% of people are tested and know their status, 90% of those who know their HIV status are on medication, and 90% of those on medication are virally suppressed.

The $362.5 million Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact, which concluded in September 2013, developed Lesotho’s health care and water and sanitation infrastructure and promoted private sector development. In December 2017, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) selected Lesotho to begin the process of developing a second MCC Compact. U.S. assistance also promotes trade facilitation, renewable energy development, good governance, and disaster risk reduction through sustainable agricultural practices.

Through the Peace Corps program, which started in 1967, more than 2,300 Americans have lived and worked in Basotho communities as volunteers. Additionally, more than 500 Basotho have gone to the United States on U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs including the International Visitors Leadership Program, the Fulbright and Humphrey educational exchange programs, and the Young African Leaders Initiative.

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). Lesotho is the second largest exporter of textiles and garments to the U.S. under AGOA. The top U.S. export categories to Lesotho are milling products, vegetables, and machinery. The country belongs to the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), 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.

Lesotho's Membership in International Organizations

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. Lesotho is a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Southern African Customs Union (SACU), and the African Union (AU).

Bilateral Representation

The U.S. Ambassador to Lesotho is Rebecca E. Gonzales. Other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department's Key Officers List.

Lesotho maintains an embassy in the United States at 2511 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008, (tel: 202-797-5533).

More information about Lesotho is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:

Department of State Lesotho Page
Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook Lesotho Page
U.S. Embassy
USAID Lesotho Page
History of U.S. Relations With Lesotho
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
Investment Climate Statements
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Country Page
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Export.gov International Offices Page
Millennium Challenge Corporation: Lesotho
Travel Information