- BURS and the European Delegation to SADC and Botswana collaborate and conduct the training workshops together
On 2nd August 2022, Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) launched a technical training programme for Customs Officials on Rules of Origin and Application of Diagonal Cumulation under the EU-SADC Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
The three-day intensive nationwide technical training programme started in Gaborone and steeped Customs Officials in Rules of Origin and the Application of Diagonal Cumulation under the EU-SADC Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
The objective of this training programme is to ensure that Customs Officials have the capacity to implement the provisions of the agreement on diagonal cumulation. This is because once they are fully applied, these provisions will facilitate intra-regional trade between the 6 (+Angola) SADC-EPA states and enable development of efficient regional value chains. This in turn should reduce the cost of raw materials and component parts for use in the manufacturing of products that can then be exported as originated in Botswana.
The training was conducted by Dr Octavia Cerchez at the Phakalane Golf Estate Hotel & Convention Centre. Dr Cerchez is Professor and Head of Research at the Geneva Interdisciplinary Centre for Economics & Law. She has more than 25 years of practical experience in international trade and regional integration, trade and customs policy formulation, negotiations at international and EU levels, negotiating and implementing WTO rules, EU legislation, World Customs Organisation (WCO) instruments, multilateral, regional and bilateral free trade agreements and Protocols on Rules of Origin. Customs Manager at BURS Matshidiso Selebatso, and Delphine Aupicon of the EU Delegation to SADC and Botswana, delivered the Opening Remarks on the first day of the training series.
Selebatso stated: “As customs officials, we are delighted to undergo this training. It is an opportune time with markets re-opening after COVID. Our role is to ensure harmonic trade facilitation and implementation of this EU-SADC EPA. “The training will enable our customs officials to facilitate Botswana producers and exporters to take advantage of the wider economic opportunities, new developments and trade innovation provided by the EPA agreement, meaning that more Botswana produced goods will be exported. So, we are very grateful to the EU-SADC EPA Implementation Support Programme team for making this capacity-building exercise possible.”
Aupicon noted: “Today is also the start of a six-week series of capacity building workshops which will provide training to about 200 customs officials. The skills acquired will smoothen the import and export customs procedures for Botswana manufacturers and exporters, thereby strengthening their competitive position on EU and global markets. This is particularly important, given the current rise in inflation and the need to remain competitive.
“As a result, this can impact on the business environment and increase the attractiveness of Botswana for foreign direct investment (FDI), notably in the manufacturing industry. This is in line with the transformation agenda of the country and effectively contributes to the successful implementation of the Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan (ERTP) and the Reset Agenda.” The opening ceremony was attended by officials from the EU-SADC EPA Unit, the SADC Secretariat, and officials from the Department of International Trade (DIT) at the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI).
General Manager, Technical Services, at BURS, Molemi Pule, delivered the closing remarks in Gaborone on the 4th of August. “Allow me to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude to the EU for funding this training, with special thanks to Colm Halloran, Team Leader, and to the technical assistance team for organising the workshop and working tirelessly to find an experienced expert on Rules of Origin and Diagonal Cumulation in Professor Octavia Cerchez,” he said. “This workshop was preceded by a SADC Regional Workshop on Cumulation which was also facilitated by the EU DG Trade under the TAIX programme.
“Diagonal cumulation is a new concept in the region and it will need cooperation between SADC-EPA states for implementation. The outcome of this workshop will go a long way in transforming and enabling Botswana to achieve the missions of being an export-led economy with new avenues of job creation.” Similar training will be provided over the next six weeks to BURS Customs Officials in Lobatse, Selebi-Phikwe, Francistown, Maun and Kasane. This will involve appointment of BURS designated in-house trainers who will ensure institutional knowledge retention with the capacity to deliver further training in this area as needed.
The technical training series is supported by the EU-SADC EPA Implementation Support Programme in Botswana. This an EU-funded 3.5-year programme which launched in February 2021 with objectives to boost Botswana’s capacity for trade and to realise the full benefits of the EPA between the EU and SADC. Its goals include promotion of export-led economic diversification and growth, increased foreign direct investment and improved employment in targeted non-mineral value chains with potential to strengthen women’s economic empowerment.