In celebration and commemoration of 28 years of bilateral economic relations, the Ministry of Trade and Industry of Botswana together with the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic) of South Africa are convening a High-Level Business Forum and Roundtable on the 3rd and 4th of August 2022, in Gaborone.

Leading the preparations for the Business Forum on the Botswana side, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Malebogo Morakaladi said, “the main objective of the engagements is to provide a forum for business executives from the two countries to engage in meaningful dialogue with high-level government executives, led by the two Presidents, to address trade and investment barriers as well as explore modalities to leverage trade and investment opportunities that abound between the two countries.”

According to a statement, the two-day event will see the Botswana private sector engage their South African counterparts in roundtable sessions and B2B meetings. The main objective of the Business Forum and Business Roundtable is to encourage business linkages between the two countries with a view to facilitate trade and investment as well as for possible joint-venture partnerships.

A trade expo will be held during the two-days. Alongside the roundtable discussions will be a trade expo that will take place over the two-days. It is expected that from the events, officials from the two countries, as well as business leaders, there will be identification and recommendation of measures to address trade and investment barriers between the two countries as well as opportunities as a basis to strengthen cooperation at government and private sector level to advance localization, joint export promotion efforts and industrialization efforts.

The meetings and the trade expo will also be expected to Identify a package of concrete actions to create a conducive environment to strengthen business to business linkages; and cooperation to support the implementation of Southern African Customs Union (SACU) Regional Value Chains and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The Deputy Director General for Trade and Investment South Africa at the dtic, Lerato Mataboge said this session is critical in cementing ties between the two countries.

“It is envisaged that the Roundtable discussion will provide the Heads of States with an opportunity to have indepth engagements on issues affecting trade and investment relations between the two countries by being in conversation with strategic and select business leaders from both countries.

The envisaged outcome is an improved economic relationship anchored by strategic investments in each other’s economies and collaborative solutions for regional growth,” she said. Botswana’s economy is highly open to trade, with imports and exports accounting for more than 80% of the country’s GDP. Due to its small market, it has signed several trade relations with other countries for market access and industrialisation.

Most critical is that Botswana’s fortunes are heavily tied to South Africa through its membership of SACU due to the high levels of bilateral trade. South Africa is the major import partner for Botswana with a market share of about 56.8 percent in 2021.