South Africa and Botswana share borders and it is therefore important for the two countries to work together, says Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel.
“There are opportunities for both countries,” Patel said on Wednesday at a media briefing at the conclusion of the South Africa-Botswana Business Forum in Gaborone.
He said however that both countries have high unemployment challenges. “We have to resolve these challenges, we need to create millions of job opportunities for our youth. We need to complement each other,” he said.
Patel emphasised the need to start thinking about how to address the challenges facing both countries.
“We need to work together. We are starting a new journey. Hopefully we will be able to address youth challenges,” he said.
Ahead of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s working visit to Botswana on Thursday, to lead talks at the High Level South Africa- Botswana Business Roundtable, the Botwana Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition convened a High-Level Business Forum.
The main objective of the engagement was to provide a forum for business executives from the two countries to engage in meaningful dialogue with high-level government executives to address trade and investment barriers as well as explore modalities to leverage trade and investment that abound between the two countries, according to Malebogo Morakaladi, who led the preparations for the Business Forum.
The main objective of the Business Forum and Business Roundtable is to encourage business linkages between the two countries with a view to facilitate trade and investment as well as for possible joint-venture partnerships.
The Deputy Director-General for Trade and Investment South Africa at the dtic, Lerato Mataboge, said the session is critical in cementing ties between the two countries.
“It is envisaged that the roundtable discussion [on Thursday] will provide the Heads of State with an opportunity to have in-depth engagements on issues affecting trade and investment relations between the two countries by being in conversation with strategic and select business leaders from both countries.
“The envisaged outcome is an improved economic relationship anchored by strategic investments in each other’s economies and collaborative solutions for regional growth,” she said.
Botswana's economy is highly open to trade, with imports and exports accounting for more than 80% of the country's GDP.
Due to its small market, it has signed several trade relations with other countries for market access and industrialisation.
Most critical is that Botswana’s fortunes are heavily tied to South Africa through its membership of SACU due to the high levels of bilateral trade. South Africa is the major import partner for Botswana with a market share of about 56.8 percent in 2021.
Additionally, Botswana benefits from regional economic integration and the facilitation of duty-free movement of goods with a common external tariff on goods entering any of the countries from outside the SACU.
Such benefits and positive bilateral economic relations make such engagements vital for both nations.
Source: South African Government News Agency