Editor's Comment

Zambia, Botswana should increase trade

PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu with Botswanan President Mokgweetsi Masisi (left) sharing a light moment after presenting the best international exhibit award in tourism to Ketwetse Setlang, a delegation representative from Botswana, in Ndola. PICTURE: STAFRANCE ZULU

THE Zambia International Trade Fair was officially opened by Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi yesterday.Like the previous trade fairs in Ndola, the presence of a visiting head of State adds flavour to the occasion.
The cameo appearance by President Masisi was significant because it fosters relations between Botswana and Zambia, both bilateral and diplomatic.
It also brings the people of the two countries together.
Further, it gives the visiting head of State an opportunity to issue policy statements on trade between his country and the host country.
And President Masisi took advantage of the platform to restate how important trade is between Botswana and Zambia.
Of importance was President Masisi’s acknowledgement that there is great potential to exponentially increase trade and investment between Zambia and Botswana.
This should be food for thought by the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry to actualise trade between the two neighbouring countries.
Zambia has a lot to offer Botswana in terms of trade, but there is an imbalance because we import more than we export to that country.
It is clear that our business community has not taken advantage of the yawning market in Botswana, which is not as endowed in terms of natural resources as Zambia.
That is why exports from Botswana to Zambia stood at US$30 million in 2017 while Zambia’s exports to that country were at US$22 million during the same period.
There is need to explore business opportunities in Botswana so that we can leverage the potential that we have.
President Masisi was categorical in stating that his country values intra-regional trade and competition because it is an enabler of economic growth and prosperity.
Let us take advantage of the bilateral and trade ties we have with the sister country to grow our trade.
The Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry should work closely with the Zambia Development Agency and the Zambian High Commission in Botswana in exploring goods and services that Zambia could be supplying to that country.
After all, at bilateral level, Zambia and Botswana have already signed the double taxation avoidance agreement that is meant to ensure that companies are not levied twice for the same transaction.
Apart from direct trade, there are also other opportunities to collaborate with Botswana.
That country is a mining giant which is rich in base metals (copper and nickel), coal, diamond, salt, sand and gravel, semi-precious gemstones, and soda ash.
We could learn from that country’s mining technology and replicate the ideas for the minerals we have in common.
We should, therefore, as a matter of urgency, send a trade delegation to that country.
There is also need for joint ventures with that country to pool their resources for the mutual benefit of the two countries.
Zambia and Botswana have a lot in common, with the two countries being prominent members of the Southern African Development Community and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, among many international bodies to which they belong.
It is clear that the 2018 trade fair has lived to its billing as being a platform for business people to network.

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