Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) this month launched a three-day intensive, nation-wide technical training programme starting in Gaborone for Customs Officials on Rules of Origin and the application of Diagonal Cumulation under the EU-SADC Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).

The objective of this training programme is to ensure that Customs officials have the capacity to implement the provisions of the agreement on diagonal cumulation.

Once they are fully applied, these provisions will facilitate intra trade between the six + Angola SADC EPA states and enable the development of efficient regional value chains. This in turn can reduce the cost of raw materials and components parts for use in the manufacturing of products, which can then be exported as originated in Botswana.

BURS Customs Manager, Matshidiso Selebatso said their role as customs officials is to ensure harmonic trade facilitation and implementation of this EU-SADC EPA. “The training will enable our customs officials to facilitate Botswana producers and exporters to take advantage of the wider economic opportunities, new developments and trade innovation provided by the EPA agreement, meaning that more Botswana produced goods will be exported,” she said.

Delphine Aupicon from the EU Delegation said the training is a start of a six-week series of capacity building workshops, which will provide training to about 200 customs officials. The skills acquired will smooth the import and export customs procedures for Botswana manufacturers and exporters thereby strengthening their competitive position on EU and global markets.

“This is particularly important given the current rise in inflation across and the need to remain competitive,” she said, adding that this can impact on the business environment and increase the attractiveness of Botswana for foreign direct investment (FDI) notably in the manufacturing industry.

She further said it is in line with the transformation agenda of the country and effectively contributes to the successful implementation of the Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan (ERTP) and the reset agenda. BURS Technical Services General Manager, Molemi Pule said Diagonal cumulation is a new concept in the region and it will need cooperation between SADC-EPA states for implementation.

He also noted that the outcome of the workshop would go a long way in transforming and enabling Botswana to achieve the missions of being an export-led economy with new avenues of job creation.

This workshop was preceded by a SADC Regional Workshop on Cumulation which was also facilitated by the EU DG Trade under the TAIX programme.

Similar training will be provided over the next six-weeks to Customs Officials BURS units in Lobatse, Selebi Phikwe, Francistown, Maun and Kasane. This will include the appointment of BURS designated in-house trainers who will ensure institutional knowledge retention with the capacity to deliver further training in this area as needed.

The technical training series is supported by the EU-SADC EPA Implementation Support programme in Botswana. This an EU funded 3.5-year programme which launched in February 2021 with objectives to boost Botswana’s capacity for trade, to realise the full benefits of the EPA between the EU and SADC. Its goals include the promotion of export-led economic diversification and growth, increased foreign direct investment and improved employment in targeted non-mineral value chains, with a potential to strengthen women’s economic empowerment.