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USA, China sign first deal to end trade war

Following months of intensified US –China Trade war which eroded business sentiments across the globe resulting in uncertainties, and subdued market in manufacturing and diamond industries amongst others, this week the world largest economies put pen to phase one of a historic trade agreement that is intended to put an end to the year-long geo political tension.

Representing the world‘s largest economy Donald Trump, President of the United States (POTUS), signed the landmark trade agreement alongside China’s Vice Premier, Liu He, representing the world most populated and second most powerful economy. According to American media houses, the agreement is a preliminary phase of a broader deal that President Trump says may come in as many as three sections. "Together, we are righting the wrongs of the past; it doesn't get any bigger than this," Trump said in a pomp-filled signing ceremony at the White House in Washington DC on Wednesday.

The US- China trade war was fueled by decades of complaints that Beijing was manipulating its currency and stealing trade secrets from American firms. This then was met by United State President Donald Trump putting up tariffs policy which White House said was to encourage US consumers to buy American by making imported goods more expensive.

 So far, the US has imposed tariffs on more than $360 billion of Chinese goods, and China has retaliated with tariffs on more than $110 billion of US products. Washington delivered three rounds of tariffs last year, and a fourth one in September.  The recent tariff punch by United States was 15 % duty on Chinese imports from meat to musical instruments China then hit back with tariffs ranging from 5% to 25% on US goods. Its latest tariff strike included a 5% levy on US crude oil, the first time fuel has been hit in the trade battle.

After more than two years of this rising tension, the two countries have signed a deal aimed at calming trade frictions. Economists say the agreement has been hard-fought, but it is unclear how much economic relief from their trade war it will offer.  Experts say tariffs in most cases at a lower rate will remain in place. Analysts say it's unlikely that the deal will produce gains sufficient to outweigh the losses already suffered.

DOMESTIC EFFECT OF THE TRADE WAR

During this US-China trade war, Africa‘s 3rd world countries, frontier markets, emerging economies, and lower to middle income countries were the most hit economies, standing in the mix, vulnerable to the net effect of negative business sentiment and uncertainties as the leading economies went throat to throat.

Economic uncertainty generated by this unstable geopolitical climate led to widespread shock and a global downturn in the diamond industry during the first half of 2019. These have also fostered a heightened sense of caution among the banks that finance the trade, as well as diamond brokers and consumers of luxury goods.

The global diamond industry in the first half of 2019 faced a variety of challenges leading to widespread uncertainty and declining commerce across all segments. The uncertainty brought about by increased trade barriers and geopolitical risks weighed on business sentiment and activity.

Botswana in particular is a middle income country largely dependent on the mining sector as its economic nucleus, by in large the diamond industry. The sector accounts for more than 30 % of the country‘s GDP, it is the largest foreign income earner, largest private sector employer and second largest source of direct business for the private sector after Government.

According to Bank of Botswana (BoB) during this tough year Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) have grown by 3.9% in the twelve months to June 2019, compared to a faster expansion of 4.9% in the corresponding period in 2018. The lower rate of increase in output is mainly attributable to a deceleration in growth of the mining sector. Growth in non-mining GDP also slowed in the review period. Mining output grew by 1.4% in the year to June 2019, compared to an increase of 5.6% in the corresponding period in 2018.

Due to by in large this uncertainty Botswana ‘s partner in diamond mining De Beers Group sold less rough diamonds during the year. Sales went down by over P14 billion. Botswana Government owns 15 % of De Beers Group, the mining behemoth is 60 % fed by local mining giant Debswana, a 50-50, 50 year old partnership between the two. Ministry of Finance & Economic Development noted in the Budget Strategy paper for the coming financial year that Botswana’s fiscal position faces potential headwinds.

“Weak diamond sales pose downside risks to mineral revenues, which remain low following the decision by Debswana to finance the Cut 3 and Cut 9 projects from the dividends. Furthermore, risks to the revenue outlook take into account the continued weak market for rough diamonds which has affected sales through De Beers Global Sightholder Sales.”

However some observers say the first deal between Washinton and Beijin means nothing .According to CNN economic experts the signing of phase one deal doesn't mean simmering conflicts and uncertainty over trade won't drag down the global economy this year.   “Tensions between the world's two biggest economies are likely to persist in 2020 as Beijing and Washington enter a second round of trade talks that are expected to be more difficult than the "phase one" process that culminated in a deal Wednesday in Washington”.

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Fighting vulture poisoning in KAZA region.

3rd February 2023
As a response to avert vulture poisoning currently going on in Botswana and KAZA region, Birdlife Botswana has collaborated with three other partners (BirdWatch Zambia, BirdLife International & Birdlife Zimbabwe) to tackle wildlife poisoning which by extension negatively affect vulture populations.

The Director of Birdlife Botswana, Motshereganyi Virat Kootshositse has revealed in an interview that the project which is funded by European Union’s main goal is to reduce poisoning related vultures’ death and consequently other wildlife species death within the KAZA region.

He highlighted that Chobe district in Botswana has been selected as a pilot site as it has experienced rampant incidents of vulture poisoning for the past few months. In August this year at least 50 endangered white backed vultures were reported dead at Chobe National Park, Botswana after feeding on a buffalo carcass laced with poison.  In November this year again 43 white backed vultures were found dead and two alive after feeding on a zebra suspected to have poisoned.  Other selected pilots’ sites are Kafue in Zambia and Hwange in Zimbabwe.

Kootshositse further explained they have established a national and regional Wildlife Poisoning Committee. He added that as for the national committee they have engaged various departments such as Crop Productions, Agro Chemicals, Department of Veterinary Services, Department of Wildlife and National Parks and other NGOs such as Raptors Botswana to come together and find a long-lasting solution to address wildlife poisoning in Botswana. ‘Let’s have a strategy or a plan together to tackle wildlife poisoning,’ he stated

He also decried that there is gap in the availability of data about vulture poisoning or wildlife in general. ‘If we have a central point for data, it will help in terms of reporting and advocacy’, he stated

He added that the regional committee comprises of law enforcement officers such as BDF and Botswana police, village leadership such as Village Development Committee and Kgosi. ‘We need to join hand together and protect the wildlife we have as this will increase our profile for conservation and this alone enhances our visitation and boost our local economy,’ he noted

Kootshositse noted that Birdlife together with DWNP also addressed series of meeting in some villages in the Chobe region recently. The purpose of kgotla meetings was to raise awareness on the conservation and protection of vultures in Chobe West communities.

‘After realizing that vulture poisoning in the Chobe areas become frequent, we realise that we need to do something about it.  ‘We did a public awareness by addressing several kgotla meetings in some villages in the Chobe west,’ he stated

He noted that next year they are going to have another round of consultations around the Chobe areas and the approach is to engage the community into planning process. ‘Residents should be part of the plan of actions and we are working with farmers committee in the areas to address vulture poisoning in the area, ‘he added

He added that they have found out that some common reasons for poisoning wildlife are farmers targeting predators such as lions in retaliation to killing of their livestock. Another common incident cross border poaching in the Chobe area as poachers will kills an elephant and poison its carcass targeting vultures because of their aerial circling alerting authorities about poaching activities.

Kootshositse noted that in the last cases it was disheartening the incidents occurred three months apart. He added that for the first time they found that some of the body parts of some vultures were missing. He added harvesting of body parts of vultures is not a common practice in Botswana, although it is used in some parts of Africa. ‘We suspect that someone took advantage of the availability of carcasses and started harvesting their body parts,’

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Giant in the making: Everton Mlalazi

3rd February 2023

The music industry is at a point where artists are jostling for space because there are so many aspirants trying to get their big break, thus creating stiff competition.

In the music business it’s about talent and positioning. You need to be at the right place at the right time with the right people around you to propel you forward.
Against all odds, Everton Mlalazi has managed to takeover the gospel scene effortlessly.
To him, it’s more than just a breakthrough to stardom, but a passion as well as mission directly appointed by the Lord.

Within a short space of 2 years after having decided to persue a solo career, Mlalazi has already made it into international music scene, with his music receiving considerable play on several gospel television and radio stations in Botswana including other regional stations like Trace Africa, One Gospel, Metro FM in South Africa, Hope FM in Kenya and literally all broadcast stations in Zimbabwe.

It doesn’t only stop there, as the musician has already been nominated 2 times and 2 awards which are Bulawayo Arts Awards (BAA) best Male artists 2022, StarFM listerners Choice Award, Best Newcomer 2021 and ZIMA Best Contemporary Gospel 2022, MLA awards Best Male artist & Best Gospel Artist 2022.

Everton’s inspiration stems from his ultimate passion and desire to lead people into Godly ways and it seems it’s only getting started.
The man is a gospel artist to put on your radar.

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African countries call on WHO to increase funding

2nd February 2023

Minister of Health Dr Edwin Dikoloti says Africa member states call on World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure equitable resource allocation for 2024-2025. Dr Dikoloti was speaking this week at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said countries agreed that there is need to address the budget and funding imbalances by increasing the programme budget share of countries and regions to 75% for the next year.

“The proposed budget for 2024-2025 marks an important milestone as it is the first in Programme Budget in which country offices will be allocated more than half of the total budget for the biennium. We highly welcome this approach which will enable the organization to deliver on its mandate while fulfilling the expectations for transparency, efficiency and accountability.”

The Botswana Health Minister commended member states on the extension of the General Programme of Work (GPD 13) and the Secretariat work to monitor the progress towards the triple billion targets, and the health-related SDGs.

“We welcome the Director’s general proposed five priorities which have crystalized into the “five Ps” that are aligned with the GPW 13 extension. Impact can only be achieved through close coordination with, and support to national health authorities. As such, the strengthening of country offices is instrumental, with particular focus on strengthening national health systems and on promoting more equitable access to health services.”

According to Dr Dikoloti, the majority of countries with UHC index that is below the global median are in the WHO Africa region. “For that, we call on the WHO to enhance capacity at the regional and national levels in order to accelerate progress. Currently, the regional office needs both technical and financial support in order to effectively address and support country needs.”

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