President Mnangagwa urges deeper Zim-Botswana trade ties
Maun(New Ziana) – President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Friday that increasing trade should be the main focus of economic cooperation between Zimbabwe and Botswana.
According to trade promotion body Zimtrade, Zimbabwe’s total exports to Botswana were US$19.2 million in 2018 against Botswana’s total import bill of US$ 4.4 billion.
This is despite Zimbabwe’s proximity to Botswana, which makes it easy to land products in that country.
A market survey conducted by ZimTrade in Botswana in 2019 revealed potential for local businesses to supply an array of products and services including processed foods and fresh produce, pork products, agricultural implements and inputs, building materials and mining supplies.
Speaking at the official opening of the second session of the Zimbabwe-Botswana Bi-National Commission here, President Mnangagwa said efforts should be expended on improving trade ties.
“The growth in the trade volumes between our two countries should form the centre piece of our economic cooperation. As such, let us all strive to speedily implement these agreements so that they translate into meaningful projects that will benefit our people,” he said.
He said private sector-led initiatives should also be incorporated as a strategy to improve economic cooperation between the two countries.
“Let me sincerely thank our captains of industry and commerce for heeding to our call for greater private sector participation in our cooperation. Going forward, we encourage business persons to invest in various socio-economic sectors to create decent jobs for our people, eliminate poverty and hunger as well as mitigate the adverse impact of climate change,” he said.
“My Government looks forward to the speedy conclusion of facilities which will catalyse cross border investments and trade among private sector players from our two countries.”
President Mnangagwa said the two governments will promote the development of joint infrastructure projects and free movements of goods and people between the two countries.
“The completion of the Kazungula Bridge Project, as well as the creation of a One-Stop-Border Post at Plumtree/Ramokgwebana must be speeded up. Due impetus should also be given towards the construction of the Ponta Techobanine Heavy Haul Railway Line Project between our two countries and Mozambique. When successfully implemented, the railway line will further strengthen economic development in our three countries,” he said.
President Mnangagwa commended the growing strategic partnership between Zimbabwe and Botswana and said that the history of cooperation between the two countries was deeply rooted in their shared political history, cultural affinities and family relations.
“We are equally bound by a common vision towards a shared future where our people enjoy a good quality of life and higher standard of living,” he said.
“In the same vein, we must pursue avenues for cross border renewable energy projects between our two countries. This will help in mitigating the impacts of climate change and augment the present energy deficit affecting the SADC region.”
President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe was also looking at tapping into Botswana’s knowledge in areas such as mining while potential for cooperation also existed in other sectors such as agriculture.
“My country stands ready to benefit from the wealth of knowledge Botswana has in the area of mining, as we aim to attain a USD12 Billion mining sector by 2023. We urge the responsible Ministries and departments of our two Governments, to expedite the cooperation in this sector,” he said.
“Agriculture remains the back bone of the Zimbabwean economy with the majority of our people employed in the sector and its associated value chain industries. Given that Zimbabwe presents good opportunities for agriculture development, we invite Botswana to consider partnerships in the growing of its food and horticulture products.”