- Hold business forum to encourage greater business collaboration between the two countries
The bilateral economic relations between Botswana and neighbouring South Africa date as far back as 1910 and are long and multi-faceted, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mmusi Kgafela, has said.
“Our predecessors developed strong economic links between the two countries dating as far back as 1910 when we signed to the SACU Agreement,” Minister Mmusi noted. “It is encouraging to note that generations later, we are still committed to maintaining and fostering these links, which of course continue to evolve in the face of emerging opportunities and challenges.”
Speaking at a business forum that was held in Gaborone to enhance the two countries’ ties further on Wednesday this past week, he added that South Africa remains Botswana’s major trading partner due to the geographical proximity of the two countries to each other, noting that being Botswana landlocked, it depends on South Africa for transit of its imports. “Both our countries belong in the same customs union, which subscribes to the free movement of goods,” Mmusi said. “This has attributed to such high levels of trade and through this arrangement, both Botswana and South Africa have managed to negotiate and secure favourable markets.
“That includes those under the SACU, SADC, the European Union-SADC Economic Partnership Agreement (EU-SADC EPA), the United Kingdom – SACU Plus Mozambique EPA (UK-SACU+M EPA), as well as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA).” The business community should therefore seize the opportunity during the business forum to build on the existing trading opportunities and open new avenues of business to export products to these markets. The Botswana-South Africa Business Forum was held on 3 and 4 August 2022 to strengthen trade and investment relations, as well as explore modalities to leverage trade and investment opportunities that abound between the two countries.
The business forum, which was the first of its kind, is one of the outcomes of the fifth Bi-National Commission where the Heads of State of the two countries realised the need for the private sectors of both countries to engage on issues relating to trade and investment. South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Naledi Pandor, told delegates that the forum will encourage greater business collaboration between the two countries with the envisaged outcome of an improved economic relationships anchored by strategic investments in each other’s economies and collaborative solutions for regional growth.
“If we are to take stock of our trade relations in recent years, it is evident that our two countries maintain a robust trade relationship that has strengthened despite the pandemic,” Minister Pandor said. “South African exports to Botswana were R64.4 billion last year and South Africa remains Botswana’s number one source of imports while Botswana is South Africa’s seventh largest export markets. “Since the hosting of the first Bi-National Commission in 2013, there have been 38 Memoranda of Understanding between South Africa and Botswana, and we are long overdue to hold the next BNC so that we can further explore areas of cooperation. “There is great room for future growth in the area of outward investment, the creation of industrial value chains, and infrastructure development.”