Ministry of Investment Trade & Industry (MITI) last week launched the AGOA National Response Strategy for Botswana at the Gaborone International Convention Centre.
Through AGOA, Botswana and other African countries get non-reciprocal concessions of more than 6,500 product lines duty free into the U.S. market. Speaking at the launch, MITI minister, Vincent Seretse explained that following AGOA’s re-authorization in 2015, Botswana had developed a National AGOA Response Strategy with assistance from the USAID Southern African Trade and Investment Hub. The strategy provides a prioritized roadmap for developing Botswana’s export competitiveness under AGOA.
Minister Seretse told attendants that the broad objectives of the Botswana AGOA Strategy were to advise the Government of Botswana on how to systematically take advantage of AGOA. He said the strategy will help government identify policy responses in targeted sectors to capacitate current and potential exporters in Botswana to increase exports under AGOA and also Develop an ongoing consultative mechanism between the public and private players as well as attract investment in the identified sectors that can benefit from international trade. ”These objectives are in line with the AGOA broader objectives of deepening U.S trade and investment ties with the region,” he said.
The Strategy has identified potential sectors, which are to export to the US market under the Act. These include the Horticulture and Agro-processing; Handicrafts (Arts and crafts); Jewellery and semi-precious stones; Leather and leather products; Natural (indigenous) products; Meat and meat products and the Textiles/ Apparel sector. It also encompasses an elaborate implementation matrix detailing specific sector based actions and activities to be undertaken for effective implementation of the Strategy.
According to Seretse a technical analysis of the Competitiveness and Market Opportunities for Botswana Beef Exports into the USA is currently being undertaken through the assistance of the Southern African Trade and Investment Hub. “I am reliably informed that this work will continue with other sectors identified in the Strategy,” he shared
The Minister further highlighted that the Strategy resonates with the aspirations of Vision 2036 and National Development Plan (NDP) 11, being an export led and diversified economy. “By taking advantage of the AGOA preferential treatment, Botswana will be able to increase the export base of Botswana goods to the U.S. market,” he said.He further noted that the government continues to refine policies aimed at improving the business environment, revealing that the Doing Business Reform Framework had already been adopted by government. The framework is aimed at easing the business environment. He said the one-stop shop centre was operational and will be officially launched in October.
Still at the AGOA strategy launch it was noted that the recent re-opening of the Botswana based – USAID Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hub on the 23rd August 2017, was testimony to the commitment that the U.S. Government has to the development of the economy of Botswana and the SADC Region at large. MITI in collaboration with the Hub is looking into exploring further support in terms of creating business-to-business linkages between local industries and the U.S. market, with particular emphasis on the priority sectors identified in the Response Strategy.
When commenting on the strategy, vice president of the Botswana Exporters and Manufacturers Association (BEMA) Mr. Pako Tsimanyana said the development of the Strategy was drawn from the strengths and lessons from the previous African Growth Opportunity Acts. He noted that the global trade landscape and the strategic comparative advantage informed the identification of sectors that are export-ready for the American market.
Tsimanyana highlighted that investment was a powerful tool that can be used to create meaningful opportunities for growth at the macro and micro levels. “Botswana remains an investment destination of choice because it offers investors several comparative advantages such as a well-established financial sector, political and macro-economic stability and respect for private property rights.”
“AGOA opens up yet another catalyst to investment into Botswana. But, nationally we must do our homework to attract and maintain investment,” he observed, emphasizing that time was of the essence. He advised that the year 2025 may seem far away but was near for the next generation. “I urge that we move with agility in implementing the AGOA National Response Strategy, for the betterment of our people and country.”
The AGOA program is an Agreement between African countries and the United States on matters of trade, to facilitate penetration of African companies into the United States market. The program targets manufacturing companies in strategic sectors like agriculture and textiles. The United States hopes to boost African developing economies with this platform. The Act was enacted into the United States Trade Act, on 18 May 2000 as Public Law 106 of the 200th Congress. AGOA has since been renewed to 2025.
The legislation significantly enhances market access to the US for qualifying Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries. The intention was to set requirements for local textile fabric sourcing, where it was considered that sufficient quantities were available in AGOA-eligible countries; third country fabric (the provisions related only to denim initially) would thus first have to be sourced locally or regionally before third country imports could be utilized for onward import of denim garments.
Joint venture between De Beers and Government of Republic of Namibia announces new plan, supporting economic, commercial, employment and community benefit, following receipt of royalty relief Namdeb Diamond Corporation (Proprietary) Limited (‘Namdeb’), a 50:50 joint venture between De Beers Group and the Government of the Republic of Namibia, today announced the approval of a new long-term business plan that will extend the current life of mine for Namibia’s land-based operations as far as 2042.
Under the previous business plan, the land-based Namdeb operations would have come to the end of their life at the end of 2022 due to unsustainable economics. However, a series of positive engagements between the Namdeb management team and the Government of the Republic of Namibia has enabled the creation of a mutually beneficial new business plan that extends the life of mine by up to 20 years, delivering positive outcomes for the Namibian economy, the Namdeb business, employees, community partners and the wider diamond industry.
As part of the plan, the Government of the Republic of Namibia has offered Namdeb royalty relief from 2021 to 2025, with the royalty rate during this period reducing from 10% to 5%. This royalty relief has in turn underpinned an economically sustainable future for Namdeb via a life of mine extension that, through the additional taxes, dividends and royalties from the extended life of mine, is forecast to generate an additional fiscal contribution for Namibia of approximately N$40 billion. Meanwhile, the life of mine extension will also deliver ongoing employment for Namdeb’s existing employees, the creation of 600 additional jobs, ongoing benefits for community partners and approximately eight million carats of additional high value production.
Bruce Cleaver, CEO, De Beers Group, said: “Namdeb, a shining example of partnership, has a proud and unique place in Namibia’s economic history. This new business plan, forged by Namdeb management and enabled by the willingness of Government to find a solution in the best interest of Namibia, means that Namdeb’s future is now secure and the company is positioned to continue making a significant contribution to the Namibian economy, the socio-economic development of the Oranjemund community and the lives of Namdeb employees.” Hon. Tom Alweendo, Minister of Mines and Energy for the Government of the Republic of Namibia, said: “Mining remains the backbone of our economy and is one of the largest employment sectors within our country.
Government understood the fundamental impact of what the Namdeb mine closure at the end of 2022 would have had on Namibia. Therefore, it was imperative to safeguard this operation for the benefit of sustaining the life of mine for both the national economy as well as preserving employment for our people and the livelihoods of families that depend on it.”
Riaan Burger, CEO, Namdeb Diamond Corporation, said: “After more than a century of production, these operations were approaching the end of their life, but the creation of this new business plan means we can continue to deliver for Namibia for many years into the future. This is great news for the hardworking women and men of Namdeb, as well as for all our community partners who we are proud to have worked with over the years. We now look forward to starting a new chapter in Namdeb’s proud history.”
Botswana has recorded its first trade surplus for 2021 since the only one for the year in January.
The country’s exports for the month of July surpassed the value of imports, Statistics Botswana’s July International Merchandise Trade data reveals.
Released last Friday, the monthly trade digest reports a positive jump in the trade balance graph against the backdrop of a series of trade deficits in the preceding months since January this year.
According to the country’s significant data body, imports for the month were valued at P7.232 billion, reflecting a decline of 6.6 percent from the revised June 2021 value of P7.739 billion.
Total exports during the same month amounted to P7.605 billion, showing an increase of 6.1 percent over the revised June 2021 value of P7.170 billion.
A trade surplus of P373.2 million was recorded in July 2021. This follows a revised trade deficit of P568.7 million for June 2021.
For the total exports value of P7.605 billion, the Diamonds group accounted for 91.2 percent (P6.936 billion), followed by Machinery & Electrical Equipment and Salt & Soda Ash with 2.2 percent (P169.7 million) and 1.3 percent (P100.9 million) respectively.
Asia was the leading destination for Botswana exports, receiving 65.2 percent (P4.96 billion) of total exports during July 2021.
These exports mostly went to the UAE and India, having received 26.3 percent (P1. 99 billion) and 18.7 percent (P1.422 billion) of total exports, respectively. The top most exported commodity to the regional block was Diamonds.
Exports destined to the European Union amounted to P1.64 billion, accounting for 21.6 percent of total exports.
Belgium received almost all exports destined to the regional union, acquiring 21.5 percent (P1.6337 billion) of total exports during the reporting period.
The Diamonds group was the leading commodity group exported to the EU. The SACU region received exports valued at P790.7 million, representing 10.4 percent of total exports.
Diamonds and Salt & Soda Ash commodity groups accounted for 37.8 percent (P298.6 million) and 6.2 percent (P48.7 million) of total exports to the customs union.
South Africa received 9.8 percent (P745.0 million) of total exports during the month under review. The Diamonds group contributed 39.9 percent (P297.4 million) to all goods destined for the country.
In terms of imports, the SACU region contributed 62.7 percent (P4.534 billion) to total imports during July.
The topmost imported commodity groups from the SACU region were Fuel; Food, Beverages & Tobacco, and Machinery & Electrical Equipment with contributions of 33.3 percent (P1.510 billion), 17.4 percent (P789.4 million) and 12.7 percent (P576.7 million) to total imports from the region, respectively.
South Africa contributed 60.1 percent (P4.3497 billion) to total imports during July 2021.
Fuel accounted for 32.1 percent (P1.394 billion) of imports from that country. Food, Beverages & Tobacco contributed 17.7 percent (P772.0 million) to imports from South Africa.
Namibia contributed 2.0 percent (P141.1 million) to the overall imports during the period under review. Fuel was the main commodity imported from that country at 82.1 percent (P115.8 million).
During the months, imports representing 63.5 percent (P4.5904 billion) were transported into the country by Road.
Transportation of imports by Rail and Air accounted for 22.7 percent (P1.645 billion) and 13.8 percent (P996.2 million), respectively.
During the month, goods exported by Air amounted to P6, 999.2 million, accounting for 92.0 percent of total exports, while those leaving the country by Road were valued at P594.2 million (7.8 percent).
Founders from twenty companies have been accepted into the program from Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa
The 4th Cohort of the Stanford Seed Transformation Program – Southern Africa (STP), a collaboration between Stanford Graduate School of Business and De Beers Group commenced classes on 20 September 2021. According to Otsile Mabeo, Vice President Corporate Affairs, De Beers Global Sightholder Sales: “We are excited to confirm that 20 companies have been accepted into the 4th Seed Transformation Programme from Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa. The STP is an important part of the De Beers Group Building Forever sustainability strategy and demonstrates our commitment to the ‘Partnering for Thriving Communities’ pillar that aims at enhancing enterprise development in countries where we operate in the Southern African region”. Jeffrey Prickett, Global Director of Stanford Seed: “Business owners and their key management team members undertake a 12-month intensive leadership program that includes sessions on strategy and finance, business ethics, and design thinking, all taught by world-renowned Stanford faculty and local business practitioners. The program is exclusively for business owners and teams of for-profit companies or for-profit social enterprises with annual company revenues of US$300,000 – US$15million.” The programme will be delivered fully virtually to comply with COVID 19 protocols. Out of the 20 companies, 6 are from Botswana, 1 Namibia, and 13 South Africa. Since the partnership’s inception, De Beers Group and Stanford Seed have supported 74 companies, 89 founders/CEOs, and approximately 750 senior-level managers to undertake the program in Southern Africa.