Daily News Botswana | 3 May 2021
Botswana launches revised AGOA strategy
By Marvin Motlhabane
The revised African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) National Response Strategy for Botswana remains one of the mechanisms towards economic diversification and SME sustainable development.
Speaking at launch of the revised strategy on Thursday April 29, the Minister of Investment, Trade, and Industry, Mr Mmusi Kgafela, said the strategy resonated well with national priorities of promoting an export-led and knowledge-based economy as contained in Vision 2036 and the National Development Plan 11.
Elements of the revised strategy included, among other interventions, identifying sector representation to ensure in-depth and adequate sectoral coverage.
He explained that this demonstrated government’s commitment towards developing an innovative vibrant, diversified and private sector-led economy.
“The strategy aims to increase exports to the United States, attract investment from the US targeted at enhancing industrialisation for targeted areas/sectors and make a meaningful contribution to the livelihood of Batswana,” he said.
Mr Kgafela indicated that the strategy identified seven key priority sectors, which were based on their high potential for export, employment creation, poverty reduction and economic diversification, among others.
Notably, he specified priority sectors to be textile and apparel, meat and meat products; handcrafts (arts and crafts); jewellery and semi-precious stones; horticulture and agro-processing; and natural (indigenous) products.
He reiterated that through this strategy, Botswana continued with efforts to cultivate an export culture and creation of a competitive and supportive manufacturing environment.
Essentially, Mr Kgafela also illustrated that the strategy identified opportunities aimed at empowering women and the youth to realise their potential and value in economic development, citing that this has led to the active participation of women and youth who work tirelessly to create livelihoods for themselves and their households.
Additionally, he pointed out that Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) would play a pertinent role in exploiting opportunities offered by the new AGOA Strategy to diversity from traditional exports to non-traditional exports.
Interestingly, Mr Kgafela highlighted that since the commencement of AGOA in May 2000, Botswana had mainly exported textiles and clothing, and furniture.
“According to the US International Trade Commission, exports to the United States decreased from US$318 million in 2014 to US$277 million in 2019, declining two places down from fourth position in 2018.
He expressed that this was attributable to a variety of challenges including lack of understanding of export processes/procedures, stringent Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) measures on agricultural products; and lack of raw materials for the Textile Sector.
He said while some challenges were noted, there were positive outcomes, including the formation of sector associations such as the Botswana Textile and Clothing Association of Botswana and the Leather Entrepreneurs Association, by the private sector.
“In an effort to address the identified challenges, in September 2017, the Ministry through the support of the USAID Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hub developed the National Response Strategy for AGOA which stood to address an increase in exports to the US and attract Investment from the US,” he said.