Bots, Zim explore trade opportunities

14th February 2018
OPENLY ENGAGE: Vincent Seretse, Trade Minister implores Zimbabwe and Botswana Source:The Midweek Sun

Top government officials from Botswana and Zimbabwe as well as captains of industry from both countries this week embarked on a journey that is expected to see the countries taking advantage of trade and investment opportunities that exist between the two. Though Zimbabwe is said to be one of Botswana’s leading trade partners in the region, there has been a decline in trade between the two countries in recent years.

Speaking at the Botswana-Zimbabwe Business Forum on Tuesday, Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Vincent Seretse said Botswana’s export to Zimbabwe declined by nine percent on a cumulative basis from P827 million to P555 million between the period 2012 to 2016. Imports from Zimbabwe into Botswana on the other hand also followed a similar pattern and fell by eight percent cumulatively from the same period with the overall balance of trade in favour of Botswana. Botswana’s recorded export basket to Zimbabwe comprises of salt, veterinary medicine, live animals, vehicles among others. Zimbabwe however, has been a consistent source of timber, sugar and cement for Botswana.

Seretse said currently, there are several companies with Zimbabwean shareholding operating in Botswana’s manufacturing industry. The majority operate in the timber and sugar packaging industries. “These companies have over the years invested around P132 million in Botswana with an estimated annual turnover of P392 million,” Seretse said, adding that these companies have employed around 436 permanent employees and an additional 436 part-time employees.

This, according to Seretse, excludes one of the largest investments with Zimbabwean shareholding in the mobile telecommunications sector. Seretse believes that the existence of a Double Taxation Avoidance Treaty between Botswana and Zimbabwe will facilitate cross border value chain linkages and Joint Venture partnerships. The Treaty was singed on June 16, 2004 and ratified by Botswana on August 3, 2004 entered into force on February 25, 2008.

He further said Botswana has since proposed to amend Article 25 of the Agreement to align it with internationally agreed standards on transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes. Both Botswana and Zimbabwe are expected to have committed to sign the amended agreement by June 30, 2018. “I requests our governments to openly engage with business community and try to amicably address any issues related to Non-Tariff measures to facilitate more trade flows,” Seretse said. Botswana and Zimbabwe have trade facilitation instruments including the Botswana/Zimbabwe Bilateral Trade Agreement, which allows for goods traded between the two countries to be exempted from payment of customs duties, provided they meet the minimum requirement of 25 percent local content.

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