Tuesday, 13 March 2018
The UAE- Botswana Business Forum heldrecentlyin Dubai, in the presence of H.E Vincent T. Seretse ,Ministerof Investment, Trade and Industry, Botswana and H.E Abdullah bin Ahmed Al Saleh, Undersecretary of the Ministry ofEconomy for Foreign Trade Affairs on behalf of H.E Engr. Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori, UAE Minister of Economy. The forum was organized jointly by the Ministry of Economy, the Dubai Chamber and the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry of the Republic of Botswana, to discussties between the UAE and African countries and to further strengthenbilateral relations between UAE and Botswana by developing vital sectors like trade and investment.
Also present at the event were H.E. Lesetedi Manyepedza Ambassadorof Botswana to the UAE, Hassan Al Hashemi Vice President of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce, Mohammed Nasser Hamdan AlZaabi, Director of the Trade Promotion Department at the Ministry of Economy, as well as over 200 officials, businessmen and investors from both countries.
H.E Abdullah Al Saleh said on his speech on behalf H.E Al Mansoori, that bilateral ties between the UAE and Botswana were particularly robust, due to investments in key sectors.
“The UAE has strong commitment and trade ties with the African markets and we have active engagement with the regionthrough our investments in key sectors. Trade volume between UAE and Africa totals around USD 35 billion and has beengrowing at a double-digit rate annually,” he said. “Non-oil trade exchange between UAE and the African countries touched AED 140.5 billion in 2016, at a growth rate of 16 per cent.” he added.
“UAE’sgrowth in Africa is visible in key sectors such as oil and gas, tourism, aviation and logistics with several national companies including ENOC, DP World, Air Arabia and Fly Dubai, to name a few established in key regional markets,” H.E added.
He affirmed that Botswana and the UAE need to bolster ties in key areas of cooperation, particularly in sectors where the both countrieshave already established investments in Africa such as agriculture, renewable energy, infrastructure, manufacturing and trade on precious metals, including diamonds, and pointed out that the high standards and regulations that the UAE has put in place fordiamond trade provides a gateway for Botswana to bolster its international market.
H.E said that this further boosts the importance of building a strategic partnership between Botswana and the UAE andtaking a step closer to developing strong economic ties based on common interests in line with both countries’ sustainable development agenda, and added that theUAE is strategically positioned as an ideal investment hub for Africa and we its keen to advance this goal by providing the ideal investment platforms offering a liberal investment environment, state-of-the art infrastructure and seamless government proceduresfor doing business.
On his part, H.E Vincent T. Seretse saidthat Botswana stands to learn a lot from the UAE, particularly in sustainable economic diversification, and he addedthat they wish to learn and emulate how the UAE has successfully diversified its economy by creating other thriving strategic sectors such as tourism, financial and business services, transport and logistics, as well as manufacturing, to name a few. H.E commended the firm resolve of the UAE to have 64 per cent of its GDP derive from non-oil reserves by the year 2030.
“There are a lot of areas where Botswana and the UAE can join hands for the mutual good. Given the negative trade balance in favorof Botswana, there is a lot of potential for the UAE to export more goods and services to Botswana. Currently, Botswana exports goods worth USD 708 million per annum to the United Arab Emirates, mostly diamonds; while the United Arab Emirates exports USD 21million of diamonds and other consumables to Botswana.” H.E Vincent added.
He affirmed that over and above trade, setting up a production facility in Botswana provides access to multiple preferential tradearrangements, such as the SADC-EU Economic Partnership Agreement, the Africa Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA), the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU), and Southern African Development Community (SADC). As a country, Botswana is working every moment, toimprove the business climate, he said, and added that they have in place the necessary regulatory framework in terms of policies, laws, and regulations that ensures security of investments and facilitates sustainable profitability and opportunities for businessexpansion.
“Dubai is an ideal partner for Botswana as a re-export hub with strong links across the Middle East, Asia and Europe. The emirate offers plenty of advantages to companies in Botswana, such as its world-class infrastructure, business friendly environment and attractive free zones.” Mr.HassanAlHashemi said.
He stressed that Dubai’s non-oi trade with Botswana has nearly tripled in recent years to exceed USD 1 billion in thefirst nine months of 2017, and pointed out that pearls, precious and semi-precious stones and metals accounted for the largest share of bilateral trade. He added that there was plenty of scope to expand trade and investment ties between the UAE andBotswana in other key sectors such as tourism, agriculture, healthcare, manufacturing and ICT.
The forum also included presentations and films on the economy of Botswana, its investment climate and business practices. Themining, diamond and gemstone sectors account for 20 per cent of the county’s GDP, 18 per cent for trade, hospitality and restaurants, 14 per cent for financial and business services and 5 per cent for the manufacturing sector. Apresentation was also given on the diamond sector, the main pillar of the Botswana economy, followed by an interactive session on oil sectors and cooperation in food products, especially beef, and tourism.