President Mokgweetsi Masisi has restated his government’s commitment to unlock the country’s value chain and support aspirations of an export-led economy.

“We intend to identify new sectors from the regional and continental product space, which can successfully be wholly produced or grown in the country to form part of the value chain,” Masisi said during the Botswana-South Africa business forum roundtable.

Masisi said unlocking opportunities for new and existing companies will result in job creation and export diversification.

After 28 years of bilateral relationship with South Africa, Masisi said Botswana should identify products that can form part of the value chain in order to close the negative trade balance with South Africa.

“The negative trade balance runs into billions of Pula for each year. Between 2017 and 2021, Botswana exported to South Africa goods worth P31 billion, while it imported goods worth P210 billion.

“This means that, on average, we are importing P42 billion and exporting only P6 billion worth of goods per annum,” Masisi said.

He said South Africa is a critical partner, as Botswana explores ways to diversify and expand its economic base, while tapping into the African market.

“This will be consistent with maximising the advantages that will accrue consequent to the advent of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).”

Masisi said government is in the process of ratifying the AfCFTA to also help unlock the country’s value chain.

“We believe that it is through successful implementation of these trade agreements that the low levels of intra-Africa trade can be addressed.”

Botswana’s exports to South Africa include diamonds, beef, and soda ash, while imports include cereals, vehicles and beverages, among others.