- The EU is Botswana’s second biggest trading partner after SA
- Botswana EPA targets mainly trade and agric ministries
The European Union (EU) is a strategic development partner to Botswana in a relationship that stretches over three decades, the Deputy Permanent Secretary (Trade) in the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Gideon Mmolawa, has said.
Mmolawa was speaking at a media briefing on implementation of the EU-SADC Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) and strengthening Botswana’s export-readiness for the EU market. “As the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and indeed as Government of Botswana, we are most grateful to the EU for this assistance,” he said. “I hasten to mention that, the EU has always been a strategic development partner for Botswana spanning over three decades. “After South Africa, the EU is Botswana’s second biggest trading partner. Nonetheless, Botswana’s exports to the EU are predominantly diamonds and there is dire need for export diversification.”
According to Mmolawa, the overall objective of the programme is to provide capacity building and technical support through the Ministry of Trade and Industry and to the ministry itself, as well as to the Ministry of Agriculture through strategic departments and parastatals. These include Botswana National Vaccine Laboratory (BNVL), Botswana Investment and Trade Center (BITC), Local Enterprise Authority (LEA), Botswana Unified Review Service (BURS), Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS), as well as to the private sector. Mmolawa told the media that the EU – SADC EPA comprises Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Eswatini and the 27 EU member states.
Signed on 10 June 2016 but in force since 10 October 2016 and Mozambique provisionally applying it since 4 February 2018, the EPAs consists of two categories of parties: the more developed EU member states and less developed SADC countries. “This means that the provisions of the four agreements are crafted in such a way that there is recognition of the imbalances in development, thus requiring the EU to take more ‘developmental’ obligations than their SADC EPA counterparts,” Mmolawa noted.
Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation to Botswana and SADC, Clement Boutiller, said the main reason that the EU has been supporting the SADC EPA programme is that trade and development based on trade is in the DNA of the multinational political and economic union. “Some countries, particularly those considered smaller countries like Denmark and the Netherlands, have been able to grow richer and reduce inequalities through trade and being able to reap the benefits of trading with the outside world,” Boutiller said.
He commended Botswana’s trade and industry ministry for progress made so far with the EPAs, saying the excellent approach of the beneficiaries in fully welcoming key experts from the EU as part of their own team was notable. “We at the EU are proud to be in partnership with the government of this country as we work together to strengthen business associations as well as the SMME sector’s product development and capacity all as key economic diversification vehicles and solutions to job creation challenges, particularly after COVID-19 impact,” said Boutiller.
“The objectives of the programme are fully in line with the transformation agenda of the country as well as the economic diversification drive strategy.” The EU-SADC EPA Implementation Support Programme was launched in February 2021 to support the Ministry of Trade and Industry with implementing the Botswana EPA. The programme has a budget of €6million (approximately P78 million) and will run until July 2024 with the overall objective being to promote export-led economic diversification and growth in Botswana with improved employment in targeted value chains.