President Cyril Ramaphosa says the historical ties between South Africa and Botswana – spanning over “thousands of years” – can provide a solid foundation for the deepening of economic and bilateral relations between the two countries.
The President was speaking at the opening of the High Level South Africa-Botswana Business Roundtable held in Botswana on Thursday.
The roundtable brought together at least 50 business people from both countries, President Ramaphosa and Botswana President, Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and several ministers from the two countries.
President Ramaphosa said one of the key areas for improvement in economic relations is mutual investment.
“Over the past five years, South Africa’s foreign direct investment stock in Botswana has increased year-on-year, reaching US$ 5.1 billion in 2021. While we will continue to encourage South African investment into Botswana, we are encouraged by the Botswana companies that have already invested in South Africa.
“Between January 2003 and December 2021, we saw nine FDI projects from Botswana to South Africa. They attracted capital investment worth R3.9 billion, resulting in the creation of over 2 000 jobs. We would like to see these numbers grow exponentially,” President Ramaphosa said.
The President said the work being done in the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) by Botswana and South Africa will bode well for the two countries’ ability to take full advantage of the operationalisation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
He said that this will open new markets in the rest of the continent, which hold “immense potential” for the two countries.
“The joint export promotion platforms that are being discussed at SACU level for leveraging AfCFTA trade opportunities are promising. I urge that the same vigour be given to concluding the work of creating industrial value-chains in the SACU. Through these value-chains, we will be able to grow our industrial exports to the rest of the continent.
“New markets in West, East, North and Central Africa hold immense potential for both South Africa and Botswana. We will be able to produce and export local goods, products and services to our fellow African countries, which would otherwise be sourced from outside the continent,” President Ramaphosa said.
The President highlighted some of the “many opportunities” which the two countries can create through cooperation.
“Work is already underway on leather and leather products, fresh produce, meat and meat products, textiles, clothing, cosmetics and essential oils. These sectors present opportunities for the development of regional value chains across the region.
“They also present opportunities for SACU exports to the rest of Africa, to the United States under AGOA (African Growth and Opportunity Act), to the European Union under the EPA (Economic Partnership Agreements), and to other strategic markets in Asia and the Middle East,” he said.
Reflecting on South Africa’s status as one of the continent’s most industrialised countries, President Ramaphosa said this can be used a spring board for the entire region.
“It is through this base that we should lift all the countries in Southern Africa and use this endowment to ensure that we do grow and capture the opportunities that are to be found on the continent,” President Ramaphosa said.
Source: South African Government News Agency