Botswana and China are enjoying good bilateral trade relations that date back to 1982, says Chinese Ambassador to Botswana Dr Zhao Yanbo. Giving a keynote address at the 25th annual Business Botswana Trade Fair in Francistown,Yanbo said when trade between the two nations resumed the total trade volume stood at around 500 000 US Dollars.
Yanbo indicated that the trade volume between China and Botswana has increased drastically over the years and it went up to a whopping 269 000 000 US Dollars in 2018, an increase of over 500 times. “It is rare to attain such growth in trade between two countries, however we must admit that trade between the two nations still has more potential. According to China statistics within the SADC region, trade volume between China and Botswana accounts to 0.3 percent and in Africa as a whole the trade volume between the two countries accounts to 0.14 percent which is very low,” he explained.
Furthermore, Yanbo said another way of expanding trade volumes between the countries is through investment adding that studies that have been carried out in the past have clearly shown that trade and investment complement each other. He insists that trade development can create a conducive environment for investment and through trade; foreign prospective investors can familiarize themselves with local trade laws and regulations. Yanbo showered Botswana with praises for being politically stable and having sound legal system that attracts foreign investors.
He observed that since President Mokgweetsi Masisi ascended to power in April last year, Botswana has adopted numerous policies with the aim of improving business environment and attracting foreign direct investment. The current regime, Yanbo said, has become more open to the world at large and because of the open policy more Chinese business people have set up in Botswana. The two nations’ cordial relations nearly soured recently when former president Ian Khama visited the Dalai Lama in India. Masisi’s administration tried in vain to block Khama’s trip fearing the backlash from China. Khama decided to use his own resources to travel to India after the government refused to sponsor the trip. China and Dalai Lama have been feuding over the sovereignty of Tibet and the former views the Dalai Lama as a separatist. China which has the second largest economy after USA, wants the world to accept that there is only one China and no independent states of Taiwan and Tibet.
For Botswana to enhance economic and trade cooperation with China, Yanbo opines that the country should take part in the regional and international economic integration. He added that, “Botswana should also positively participate and promote competitive economic development in the region and globally,” he said.
Meanwhile, Business Botswana President, Gobusamang Keebine urged local entrepreneurs to tap into the available market in China to export their products. Keebine noted that China needs over 1 billon eggs in a day which present a lucrative business opportunity to export eggs to China. “We have a challenge due to our small population which is only two million and therefore it means our local market is saturated. We need to have an outward look in order to utilize markets available in foreign countries,” said Keebine.