Botswana, along with Mozambique and other SACU members, are currently holding talks with the United Kingdom (UK) to agree on a trade arrangements post the exit of UK from the European Union block, Permanent Secretary at Trade Ministry ÔÇô Peggy Serame has said.
Appearing before the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) this past week, Serame said that said the talks were commenced in October 2017 and are intended to facilitate uninterrupted trade with UK from the beginning of April 2019 when the UK exits the EU.
In July 2017,the UK and members of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) amongst them Botswana agreed to continue discussions to explore ways to ensure that the existing trade arrangement between the two blocs currently governed by the EU-SADC EPA will not be disrupted by Britain’s departure from the EU.
The two sides also agreed to continue discussions to explore ways to ensure that the existing trade arrangement between the UK and SACU currently governed by the EU-SADC EPA will not be disrupted by the UK’s departure from the EU.
In a joint statement at the time, SACU and the UK’s Department of International Trade, said talks are likely to focus on steps to agree an arrangement that replicates the effects of the EPA once the UK has left the EU.
As a result, Botswana is expected to continue to benefit from the EPA with the European Union (EU), after member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) concluded negotiations with the EU over renewal of the EPA mid last year.
Following negotiations lasting more than a decade, the ‘EPA Group’ of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which comprises Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa, signed an EPA with the EU on 10th June 2016. While there is scope for Angola to join the ranks later on, the nine remaining members of SADC are either exempt or in discussions over other regional EPAs.
This week Serame told PAC that the government continues to engage in other trade agreements with a view to securing markets for local goods and services.
Serame said study to unpack the opportunities and identify bottlenecks for exporting Botswana beef and beef products to the US has been finalized. The process for implementation of the recommendations of the study has commenced, she said.
Serame mentioned another trade agreement – AGOA, in which she said more than 6,500 product categories of goods are granted duty and quota free access to the U.S. market.
“There are currently no companies exporting products to the U.S under AGOA and no companies have registered to trade under AGOA,” said Serame.
Botswana launched the AGOA response strategy in September 2017 following the extension of AGOA legislation to 2025. The strategy intends to assist Botswana in the utilisation of AGOA and aims at expanding exports, increasing U.S investment to Botswana and addressing constraints within prioritized sectors of the economy.