President Ian Khama says the recently signed European Union –Southern African Development Community Economic Partnership Agreement makes Botswana a potential centre for trade and investment.
Khama who was presenting his state of the nation address in Parliament this week stated that the deal accords Botswana’s exports duty and quota-free access to the EU market. The long awaited European Union-Southern African Development Community Economic Partnership Agreement (EU-SADC EPA) was sealed mid this year in Kasane after years of negotiations. The EU-SADC EPA negotiations commenced in 2004 and were only concluded in 2014. The delay has been associated with the complexity of negotiations and were said to have covered a broad array of issues, which required not only lengthy discussions but also intense and in-depth consideration of issues in a holistical manner.
President Khama in his address this week revealed that under this Agreement, “our infant industries can be protected against EU imports from established industries.” He stated that the Agreement also provides for transitional safeguard measures for Botswana’s sensitive products. “To support industrial development, provision has been made for the application of export taxes on up to eight products from Botswana for a period not exceeding 12 years from entry into force of the Agreement. In addition to benefiting from sourcing inputs for production within the SADC and EU regions, Botswana industries have been also accorded the opportunity to source raw materials and intermediate inputs from Africa, Caribbean and Pacific countries as well as EU overseas countries and Territories,” he said.Khama added that the Agreement further supports the objectives of the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan of poverty eradication and specifically the industrial pillar where Member States envisage transformation of the region through value addition.
Government, he said, is considering the enactment of an Investment Facilitation Law, which will establish an investment code for Botswana and stipulate service standards and turnaround times for facilitating investors.
The signing of the EU-SADC EPA is said to have marked the beginning of a new relationship, a transformation from the old regime of unilateral preferences and quota systems. The EPA however, recognises asymmetries between the EU and SADC EPA States and supports the development agenda for the SADC EPA Group of States. This Agreement is premised on the objectives of supporting the long-term vision of economic growth, diversification and transformation for the region, which extends beyond the SADC EPA Group to cover wider SADC Member States as well as the tripartite agenda.