Botswana and China must acknowledge that trade between them is very low despite the fact that in 2018 the trade volume increased 500 times. This was revealed by the Chinese Ambassador Dr Zhao Yanko at the 25th Botswana Northern Trade Fair in Francistown recently where he was the Guest of Honour.
“According to China’s statistics, within the SADC region, China-Botswana trade volume accounts for only 0.31 percent, which is very low and for Africa as a whole, China-Botswana trade volume accounts for only 0.14 percent which is even lower,” explained Dr Yanko.
The way he sees things, trade between the two countries should not only be promoted but its volume must be expanded together with the trade scale. “When we talk about trade we should also look at things from a broader perspective and deeper level. One of the most important things for trade is investment. “Practice has proven that trade and investment complement each other. Trade development can create favourable conditions for investment,” noted the envoy.
According to him, through trade, foreign enterprises can familiarise themselves with local laws and regulations, administrative procedures, market, industries, culture and the people and thus are able to establish a network for localised development and identify areas, products and services with good investment returns. “And these products and services will greatly strengthen the country’s export capability and performance and eventually improve bilateral trade as a result,” lectured Dr Yanko. He also noted that because China’s fast development relies on a path of industrialisation, today, 40 percent of China’s exported goods and two-thirds of China’s exported hi-tech products are manufactured by foreign enterprises based in China.
The Chinese Ambassador said that the Chinese fast development relies on innovation and entrepreneurship of her people. He noted that Botswana has got many areas of strength that attract foreign investors since President Masisi assumed office.“Botswana government has adopted a number of policies with the aim of improving business environment and attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). “Now, Botswana has become more open and welcoming to the whole world,” said the Chinese Ambassador.
The theme of the event was Innovate-Integrate-Industrialise. Giving his welcome remarks earlier, the president of Business Botswana, Gobuamang Keebine, had underscored the importance of the Northern Trade fair indicating that it had become a medium for doing business and promote products and services to a wider range of audience. “Our objective and that of our partners is to create and seize opportunities,” he continued adding that, in Botswana, the private sector’s role has not only been operational in terms of constructive dialogue and engagement.
He said they have been engaged by government in key developmental strategies and policy formation. Praising China for its state of industrialisation, he expressed hope that Botswana and Francistown would learn something from China’s lesson. “For Francistown to position itself as an investment hub, collectively, we must prioritise industrialisation as key to economic growth for Francistown and Botswana,” he advised adding that, for the development of Francistown to become a reality, Business Botswana and the other stakeholders must make sure that citizens participate in the economy.
“Only if we see ourselves as partners in business, if we support each other in our business and if we make a concerted effort as business people to take the lead in our economy and convert it into a private sector led economy and reduce dependence on government,” declared the Business Botswana leader.