BITC launches trade portal

Keikantse Lesemela
Friday, 29 January 2016
Assistant minister of Trade, Sadique Kebonang Assistant minister of Trade, Sadique Kebonang

Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) have finally launched Botswana’s Trade Portal, a web-based platform to provide the business community with all statutory trade and regulatory information.

The information will be sourced from various government departments involved in the issuing of permits, licences and clearances for export and importation of goods and services.

Dubbed as ‘Trade Portal’, the solution is intended to make use of current technology for ease of trade. It will provide easy access to laws, regulations, administrative procedures guidance notes, applicable fees, forms, licences, permits and penalties applicable in case of breach.

Launching the system on Tuesday, Assistant Minister of Trade and Industry, Sadique Kebonang said the concept was borne out of a need by all concerned to make trade regulatory information in Botswana easily and readily accessible to the business community both within Botswana and abroad.

“The two main objectives for the system is to make it easier for traders and investors to understand, navigate and comply with regulatory requirements associated with exporting and importing as well as helping Botswana to fully comply with its international obligations at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) level,” said Kebonang.He explained that the WTO General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) requires countries to promptly publish and make available all regulatory requirements for export, import and transit of goods across borders.

“The launch of the portal forms part of a broader commitment by the government of Botswana towards implementing the new WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation. This portal marks an important milestone in the continued improvement in the country’s business environment as well as acceleration in regional and international trade,” said Kebonang.

The Portal is used to store all documents relating to trade in Botswana as a way of improving the traditional system where critical trade documents, application forms, licenses, permits, trading rules and requirements reside with different government departments and are therefore not easy to access.

In his remarks World Bank Senior Economist, Richard Record said through the portal Botswana will be able to improve the ease of doing business. “The portal [will] help Botswana to create competitiveness and facilitation of trade,” he said. The World Bank funded the implementation of the project by USD 600 000 (P7 million).

“Database is designed to allow logical structuring of information. All information is indexed, cross-referenced and dynamically presented to answer traders’ queries.  “One will also find contact form for queries targeted to specific agencies.” He said the portal will provide transparency and predictability of trade regulations and procedures and in turn increase the compliance level and reduce the cost of doing cross border trade in Botswana.

However in the ease of doing business rankings the World Bank’s 2015 Doing Business report shows that Botswana has scaled down by eight positions. From the 189 countries surveyed, Botswana was placed at position 74 from a revised position of 66 in 2014.