Botswana Investment and Trade Centre pushes for regional value chains

This comes as Botswana was not among the top 20 import source countries for Zimbabwe during the first eight month of the year.

THE Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) has urged African countries to focus on establishing cross-border and regional value chains to propel the growth in economies.

This comes as Botswana was not among the top 20 import source countries for Zimbabwe during the first eight month of the year.

Zimbabwe exported goods worth US$16,12 million to Botswana in the period under review.

Speaking at the ZimTrade Exporters’ Conference in Harare last week, BITC chief executive officer Keletsositse Olebile said there was a need to stimulate high-tech protectionism.

He said that this would lead to higher investment, productivity and competitiveness on the continent through the connection of value chains.

“While we celebrate significant progress in Africa, there is still a long way to go and I think we need to collaborate even better as a region to create those cross-border value chain linkages so that together as a pact we can claim a fair share of trade across the world,” Olebile said.

“There are some anti-competitive practices among the major trading countries. High-tech protectionism is also quite a concern. We try to stimulate at home, but in the long term, we will know that it won't be sustainable. That's why we are talking about regional or cross-border value chains so that we can really connect our value chains and grow together.”

He said that trade policymakers are losing focus on the regional and continental commitments that were made on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as Africa is contributing only 2% in global trade.

According to the AfCFTA Secretariat secretary-general, Wamkele Mene, African economies lack competitiveness to trade alongside other regions.

In Zimbabwe, as an example, there have been concerns that goods emanating from the country are more expensive than those of its competitors.

Across Africa, trade barriers and protectionist policies are working against the continent’s growth.

AfCFTA aims to promote trade liberalisation and market-oriented reforms within Africa; boost economic growth; and increase the size, diversity and integration of African economies and markets.

It also aims at liberalising the movement of capital and natural persons, goods, and services across the African continent without restrictions.

“Trade policies within the respective countries where the decision makers come from are losing the picture of the broader global trade assistance,” Olebile said.

“We signed bilateral and multilateral trade deals and right now the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement is the major one and we tend to forget about the regional and continental commitments that we have made.”

He added that Asia, with the predominance of China, lead in global trade, followed by Europe. “Where Africa is reflected, I see the flag of South Africa there as the lead and maybe Nigeria, but as a collective, we are still in the 2% region of global trade in general,” Olebile said.

He added that the continent was losing an opportunity to industrialise focusing on value-adding its raw materials before exporting them.

“Talking about the trade volumes of Africa, mapping on the main commodity or product that each country is exporting, you'll realise that we are still to a large extent exporting our raw materials, our natural endowment,” Olebile said.

“Key export communities mapped are mainly mining products, fuels in the energy space, as well as agriculture products. We are losing a very big opportunity in downstream beneficiation processing where we can create industries through value-adding our products.”

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