Sunday, May 29, 2022

EU Head of Delegation urges value addition to boost trade

Although the environment appears favourable, trade between Botswana and the European Union is still limited and there is a need to focus on value addition to turn around the fortunes, a top EU diplomat has noted.

Experts have often blamed lack of capacity by local enterprises as they could not fully benefit from trade agreements including the EU-SADC Economic Partnership Agreement that presents unprecedented trade opportunities for the country and region.

Head of Delegation of the European Union to Botswana and SADC, Alexander Baum has observed that trade ‘is still limited’ to machinery, chemicals, diamonds and transport equipment.

In 2013 alone the value of total EU imports from the region was approximately EUR 31 billion, of which about 10 percent was agricultural and fishery products while total EU exports to the region for the same period was EUR 33 billion.

“There is not much value addition in products,” Baum said. “There is a need to move into value added products,” he added. As a leading producer of rough diamonds in the world, the country exports these in large numbers to Europe while EU is a lucrative market for the country’s beef.
The EU has been a money market for Botswana beef for many years as it offers the best value for Botswana cattle farmers.

“EU citizens adore Botswana beef and as such the EPAs open up the market for Batswana farmers,” he said recently.

“To this end the EPA presents a golden opportunity for increasing exports of Botswana beef to the EU market, provided that EPA conditions such as implementation of a livestock Identification and Traceability System are met.”

In 2012, the European Union and the government of Botswana signed a Financing Agreement valued at EUR 8 million to support empowerment of Non-State Actors in Botswana. This support is comprises of two components; one on NGO empowerment and another to support the Private Sector Development Strategy.

“Two years down the line some critical activities to the private sector component are now being implemented,” he revealed.

“A crucial activity under the Private Sector Development programme is the study of value chains with a view to increase competitiveness and access to regional and international markets. The first such value chain that is targeted for development and strengthening is beef.”

The SADC countries that signed EPA, including Botswana, are guaranteed duty free and quota free access to the EU market.

He said at political level, they can only create an enabling environment and it is up to the private sector to gauge what is profitable and not.

“It is the private sector that needs to take up the opportunities,” said the German who replaces Paul Malin, adding that as the EU they want to help with in economic diversification of Botswana.

In 2012, the European Union and the government of Botswana signed a Financing Agreement valued at EUR 8 million to support empowerment of Non-State Actors in Botswana. This support is comprises of two components; one on NGO empowerment and another to support the Private Sector Development Strategy.

EU is the largest trade partner of the SADC-EPA group of states, which currently consists of Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland.

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