ZIMBABWE and Botswana could realise increased mutual economic gains through increased synergies between businesses in the two countries and product diversification with a bias on exportation.
This was one of the key outcomes of the recent virtual trade mission, which drew participation of business leaders from the two neighbouring countries. The virtual trade conference was organised by ZimTrade and Botswana Investment and Trade Centre with the aim of discussing opportunities of furthering trade and investment in the two countries.
Botswana is one of Zimbabwe’s traditional trading partners and local companies can take advantage of the proximity between the two countries to land products at a competitive price, ZimTrade has said.
Among the integral components of the programme were business-to-business meetings where local businesses met their Botswana counterparts, creating synergies for exporting products and importing raw materials.
In his official opening remarks, Botswana Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Louis Fisher, said his country and Zimbabwe share a common historical and economic history, which must translate to improved trade.
“Botswana and Zimbabwe enjoy a special relationship that can be traced back to the pre-independence era.
“This special relationship, which is underpinned by the existing close affinity between the people of Botswana and Zimbabwe, has laid a solid foundation for deepening and strengthening of bilateral cooperation between our two countries,” he said.
“As developing and landlocked countries, we have both identified economic diversification as one of the tools, which we can use to confront our common challenges such as poverty, unemployment and the negative effects of climate change, to name, but a few.”
Amb Fisher said Zimbabwe, in particular, was an interesting market considering its proximity to Botswana, historical ties, political and trade relations.
“Zimbabwe ranks as third largest export market for Botswana products in the Sadc region,” he said.
Speaking during the same event, Zimbabwean Ambassador to Botswana, Batiraishe Mukonoweshuro, said the prevailing challenges posed by Covid-19 should not deter strengthening of trade relations between the two countries.
“Business has to continue despite the challenges presented by Covid-19 on our economies. The opportunity for match-making being provided by this trade promotion mission undoubtedly provides openings for importers and exporters to identify their potential partners and seek markets for their products and services,” he said.
During the dialogue, Amb Mukonoweshuro revealed that Zimbabwe and Botswana were engaged in talks towards establishing a One Stop Border Post at Plumtree/Ramokgwebana entry/exit point to facilitate seamless border services. The move is expected to energise trade between the two states and bolster regional economic integration.
ZimTrade said that Botswana’s Francistown, which is closer to Zimbabwe than the capital Gaborone, can be used as an entry point into the market. Zimbabwe’s trade with Botswana has in the past three years shown steady growth with Zimbabwe’ exports moving from US$19,2 million in 2017 to US$43,3 million in 2019.
A contributing factor to this is the increased effort in nurturing trade between the two countries and continued activities by ZimTrade to identify areas of opportunities for local companies. A market survey conducted by ZimTrade in Botswana in 2019 revealed potential for local businesses to supply an array of products and services to Botswana.
These export opportunities are in sectors such as processed foods and fresh produce sectors, agricultural implements and inputs, building material and mining supplies. For example, Zimbabwean companies have potential to export mainly processed foods such as pork products, tinned foods, cereals, milk and milk- based products, cordials, biscuits, and sweets.
Botswana is also a net importer of fresh produce that local exporters have capacity to supply.
Produce such as vegetables, bananas, apples, oranges and pepper can perform well in the Botswana market and local exporters can earn more if they value add their commodities.
Although South African companies will be a competitive challenge for local companies that are looking to increase their market share of Botswana, ZimTrade said there is potential to supply the retail sector in Botswana as all retailers source both directly from the manufactures as well as through distributors or agents.
Local exporters can also leverage on Zimbabwe’s global reputation of a producer of quality products as some local brands are already household brands in Botswana. The Batswana regard Zimbabwean products to be of great quality and some buyers who interacted with locally produced products at the Botswana Global Expo held last year indicated willingness to “go Zimbabwe” if local players are able to supply. Further to this, Botswana is largely an open market economy, with the business environment being highly facilitative of trade and investment for both local and foreign players, said ZimTrade.–chronicle.co.zw