Because of its skewed economic structure, Botswana has traditionally had a sharp imbalance between imports and exports, characterized by a narrow export base in comparison to its wide import base.
However, latest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures released in 2015 indicate that real exports of goods and services rose by 7.2 percent in the first quarter of 2015, reversing the decline of 0.6 percent that was registered in the same period last year. The imports of goods and services on the other hand increased by 13.6 percent, a difference of 12 percent from the same quarter in 2014, which had registered an increase of 1.6 percent. ┬á
According to Bank of Botswana (BoB), the country’s main export product is diamonds, which constitute more than 60 percent of total exports. The remaining export products comprise of copper and nickel, beef and textiles.
The sale of beef to the outside markets, particularly to the European Union (EU), is exclusively under the control of Botswana Meat Commission (BMC), which therefore gives it a statutory monopoly on the export of beef. BoB’s 2014 annual report indicates that beef exports fell by 3.4 percent between 2014 and 2013. The report shows that that the top three export destinations of Botswana’s products in 2014 were United Kingdom, Belgium and Hong Kong. ┬á┬á
In the case of imports, Botswana applies seasonal and temporary restrictions on imports of dairy products, poultry products, grains and specified vegetables in an effort to protect domestic producers. The BoB report estimated imports at P65.2 billion in 2014, a decrease of 4.2 percent from the revised estimate of P68 billion in 2013. It further states that the import of food and fuel declined, recording a fall of 5.1 percent and 2.5 percent respectively. ┬áSouth Africa is Botswana’s main import partner.
Taking the difference in total value between transactions or payments in and out of the country, known as the balance of payments (BoP), between 2013 and 2014, BoB indicates that BoP recorded a surplus of P11.4 billion in 2014 compared to a meager surplus of P1.3 billion in 2013. The surge is attributed to a significant movement in export earnings and a decline in imports.