Zim/Botswana collaboration to strengthen trade ties

THE agriculture sector will be among the biggest beneficiaries from the Zimbabwe-Botswana cooperation that will see the two countries hosting a business forum in Muan, Botswana on February 8 to boost trade and foster strong ties.

Zimbabwe’s trade development and promotion organisation, ZimTrade and the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre are jointly organising the Botswana-Zimbabwe business forum that will run on the side-lines of the Joint Permanent Commission on Cooperation between the sister countries.

In a recent press release, ZimTrade: “The business forum is a key part of nurturing and strengthening trade and business relations between Botswana and Zimbabwe, with the primary focus of facilitating potential joint ventures and promoting investment opportunities between businesses from Botswana and Zimbabwe. This is in line with the new thrust to increase the footprint of Zimbabwean products and services in the region, through deepened linkages with distributors in regional markets.”

ZimTrade will lead a delegation of businesses from various sectors that include agriculture and agro-processing, manufacturing (textiles and clothing, building materials and furniture) and services (tourism and financial services).

The event will feature scheduled business-to-business meetings and a mini-exhibition providing companies from both countries with the opportunity to showcase their products and establish trade and investment connections.

The key stakeholders in attendance are Botswana’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Mmusi Kgafela and Zimbabwe’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Frederick Shava, allowing for impactful discussions around the ease of doing trade between the two countries.

“The Global Expo in Botswana proved to be a game-changer, last year after 24 Zimbabwean exporters were directly connected with potential buyers and Zimbabwe won the best international stand award.

“This proactive approach is further complemented by the ongoing participation of the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF). This mutually beneficial exchange allows Botswana businesses to explore the vast potential offered by Zimbabwe’s vibrant economy.

“Zimbabwe’s exports to Botswana have recorded impressive growth, with value increasing from $31, 030 million in 2020 to $43, 384 million in 2022,” ZimTrade explained.

This surge is driven by a diverse range of products, with tobacco, sugar and confectionery, wood and wood products, ceramics, articles of steel and apparel leading the charge. This diversification showcases the adaptability and dynamism of Zimbabwean businesses, effectively meeting the varied demands of the Botswana market.

The two countries have a bilateral trade agreement governed by the Statutory Instrument (S.I) 192 of 1998, which allows preferential treatment of goods originating from the two countries including goods grown, produced or manufactured, meaning that the trading partners are exempt from payment of customs duties as long as the goods have 25 percent local content.

ZimTrade added: “Goods produced in Zimbabwe and Botswana enjoy reduced tariffs within the SADC region, making them more competitive and fostering regional economic integration.”

The participation of local companies in cross-border collaboration, facilitated by the new African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), further encourages knowledge exchange and expertise sharing, fostering a vibrant business environment.

The strategic Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between ZimTrade and BITC facilitates information sharing, capacity building initiatives and joint trade promotion efforts. This partnership tackles challenges faced by businesses on both sides, ultimately streamlining the export process and creating a more conducive environment for trade to flourish.

ZimTrade is actively pushing for increased participation of local companies in the  Botswana market making it necessary for country to conduct a market survey in 2019 and annually facilitating the participation of local companies at the Botswana Global Expo in Gaborone.

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