Monday, October 3, 2022

BITC chief speaks on import substitution

Botswana Investment Trade Centre (BITC) says there are opportunities for import substitution as Botswana remains a net food importer. 

BITC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Keletsositse Olebile observed that imports have been generally increasing year on year and stated that trade deficits have been increasing in recent years.

He stated that exports have been generally stagnant and also observed that South Africa remains the largest export market for Botswana’s agricultural products. “Export to RSA have been increasing and this may be a result of deeper trade relations as a result of SACU,” said Olebile.

He further said that trade with Namibia, DRC, Angola, Mozambique, and Zambia is also on the rise. He is of the view that markets such as Norway remain critical while they see emergence of new markets in China, Hong Kong, Greece and Kuwait.

Olebile spoke of Botswana imports suppliers and stated that import values were over US$948 million from 2017 to 2021, and that South Africa dominates as import supplier to Botswana. He further stated that imports from South Africa were about 90 percent of total agricultural imports into Botswana at value of about US$ 864 million in 2021. He added that import suppliers are from various countries in Africa, Asia, South America and Europe.

“Vegetable and fruit development need land and water and current imports of horticultural produce from South Africa is in excess of P170 million. There is insufficient supply of quality products and there is need for modern vegetable production existence of private investors keen to take up production,” said Olebile.

“There are good market access and trade agreements access to more than 293 million consumers in the SADC region. SACU has duty free and quota free market access agreement and has 61 million consumers from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho and South Africa,” said Olebile.

He stated that in their effort to become a leading high-performance Investment Promotion Agency, their focus on investment promotion is leveraged on research to identify and profile growth sectors, and to create strategic go-to market value propositions that will attract investors to the country. “We have been advocating for a new business facilitation law to be enacted, with the establishment of a board of investment, which will help with the co-ordination of initiatives necessary to address the challenges to the ease of doing business,” he said.

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