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Botswana is currently conducting a technical analysis of the competitiveness and market opportunities for Botswana beef exports to the United States of America (USA) amid reports that textiles companies have relocated to Lesotho.
Junior Minister at the Investment, Trade and Industry ministry, Biggie Butale told Parliament this week that Botswana used to export textiles to the United States through AGOA, and a lot of those companies have since relocated to Lesotho for various reasons.
He said Botswana used to export textiles to the United States, and textiles would be a natural sector because “we have experience with that, but there are other sectors that we can exploit, such as handicrafts.”
Therefore he said the technical analysis is being conducted as part of the implementation of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) National Response Strategy.
According to Butale, his ministry, through the study has prioritized the export potential for Botswana beef and its products.
He explained that to effect implementation of the National Response Strategy, his ministry has prioritized exploring the export potential for the Botswana beef and beef products.
“A technical analysis of the Competitiveness and Market Opportunities for Botswana Beef Exports into the US is currently being undertaken through the assistance of the Southern African Trade and Investment Hub, a US Government Agency,” said Butale.
Since the commencement of AGOA, Botswana participated in eight sectors in textiles apparel, chemicals, machinery, agriculture, minerals metals, forestry, transport equipment and electronic products.
In the period of 2001-14, exports from AGOA-eligible countries increased by threefold from $1.3 billion to $4.4 billion. However, Botswana's exports to the US in the year 2008 were mere $15 million compared to Lesotho, which exported goods worth $350 million under the AGOA scheme.
AGOA is a unilateral trade arrangement by the US for African member states. It was signed into law in 2000, for a period of eight years, and was further extended until September 30, 2025. The benefits provided by AGOA have allowed for an average of around 70 per cent of all imports from Sub-Saharan Africa to enter the US duty-free.
Butale said the AGOA National Response Strategy has been finalised and endorsed by the ministry in consultations with the AGOA National Reference Group, which comprises of stakeholders from Government and the private sector. He said the Strategy has identified potential sectors, for export to the United States (US) market under the Act.
Butale said it also includes an elaborate implementation matrix detailing specific sector based actions and activities to be undertaken for effective implementation of the Strategy.
“All the activities which are to be undertaken by the different stakeholders have been costed,’ said Butale.
He said currently Botswana is not exporting any products to the US market, under the AGOA Programme.
According Butale, his ministry continues to engage regional US Government Agencies for technical Assistance and Capacity Building Programmes to assist local companies to access the US market.
This is because to establish target export volumes and values to AGOA, requires detailed technical assessment of each identified export potential sector, in terms of establishing production capacity and competitiveness of the Botswana industry as well as the demand and requirements of the US market.
Butale said the study commenced on the 4th July 2017 and is expected to be completed by end of August 2017.
“To roll out of similar technical assessment, as that of the beef sector will be done for the other strategic sectors, identified by the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) National Response Strategy. This process will entail identification of specific products for export under the potential sectors, as well as ways of addressing gaps and challenges that hinder Botswana to export to the US,” said Butale.
Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Bogolo Kenewendo had asked the minister if the ministry has finalised the budget and matrix for the AGOA implementation as well as to state the export volumes and value through AGOA and the current exports in relation to the target and what is being done to achieve.