European Union (EU) ambassador to Botswana and SADC, Jan Sadek has vowed to double Botswana’s non-mining sectors exports. Speaking at the officially launch of the SADC Trade Related Facility for Botswana, the ambassador said he wants to see more products labeled, Made in Botswana, not only in Europe but across the world.
“It is possible to double the country’s non diamond exports. We have a strategy, the expertise and I have confidence in the work of the government,” said Sadek. Over the past four years, European Union has funded Botswana to the tune of approximately P26 million for the country to implement various interventions to prop up its participation in international trade. The grant came under the financial and technical support for the SADC Protocol of Trade and the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between EU and SADC EPA Group.
Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Bogolo Kenewendo has applauded the project, as springboard for the country’s exporting appetite.“With the support under the Trade Related Facility (TRF) targeting standards and quality, the country will upgrade and meet the EU standards to penetrate and diversify,” said Kenewendo, adding that the project is being launched after exhausting 30 percent of the grant.
The TRF contribution agreement came into force on 1st October 2014 and was expected to be implemented over a period of 5 years to 30 September 2019. The project has therefore, been extended with another two years. Citing statistics, Kenewendo said in the three years from 2015 to 2017, Botswana enjoyed an overall total positive trade balance of around US$43.0 billion, adding that during the same period, Botswana’s exports to EU countries were valued at US$54.1 billion while imports from EU were valued at US$11.1 billion.
“The Botswana SADC TRF project therefore is crucial to make meaningful contributions to exports between Botswana and the EU,” said Kenewendo. Current industries registered to trade under the EU, SADC –EPA agreement include beef, furniture, underground mining vehicles, textile and organic fertilisers.
Some of the project that government is using the finance and technical assistance on include drafting new Customs Act, standards import inspection regulations, national e-commerce strategy, capacity building services to Botswana Trade Commission and training of Botswana Bureau of Standards officers.
Meanwhile, the SADC secretariat says it stands ready and committed to jointly work with Botswana and other member states, as well as with the EU, in making the TRF a crucial instrument to further economic integration across the region.