Bots in crusade against imported goods

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By Mpho Tebele

Gaborone - Botswana has launched a crusade against the importation of certain products and goods in an effort to diversify the economy and create employment opportunities.

Botswana’s economy is heavily reliant on diamond exports and efforts to diversify the economy have not achieved the desired results.

Hardly a month after imposing restrictions on the importation of vegetables and bottled water, Botswana has extended the restriction to cement.

Botswana is considering restricting importation of cement to boost economic activity and employment creation.

According to the Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Bogolo Kenewendo, the government is already working on guidelines to restrict importation of cement.

She said research indicates that the cement industry has the potential to create job opportunities and assist in economic diversification in the country.

Kenewendo said the proposed restrictions will require that 70% of the cement be sourced from local manufacturing companies and 30% be imported.

“The proposed restrictions would be done through the issuance of import permit after the importer has submitted evidence that indeed they have satisfied the 70% requirement,” said Kenewendo. She said the importation of cement will be done through the issuance of the import permit and that the importer will be required to submit evidence that indeed they have satisfied the 70% requirement.

It is understood that the restriction on the importation of cement will come into force in September 2018.

Kenewendo reiterated that through Control of Good, Prices and Other Charges Act put in place measures to restrict the importation of bottled water in small quantities effective at the beginning of August this year.

“As a way of promoting the development of the water bottling sector and attracting investment, we have restricted importation of bottled water in small quantities and only allow for 10 litres or more,” she said. 

According to the minister, this would go a long way in ensuring the sustainability of the water-bottling sector and assist in the national diversification efforts. 

The permanent secretary at the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry, Peggy Serame, explained that the government has imposed restrictions on the import of bottled natural and mineral water under the Control of Goods, Prices and Other Charges Act.

Serame said the implementation of the regulations would promote the competitiveness and sustainability of the domestic water bottling sector.

“The move is also intended to stimulate investment in the sector, which could lead to job creation and poverty reduction, she added. The Statutory Instrument No. 44 of 2018 was published in the Government Gazette dated 6 April 2018,” said Serame.

She added that “the instrument prohibits the importation of water packed in bottles of less than 10 litres and, therefore, only allows importation of water packed in bottles of 10 litres and above”.

In 2015, Botswana also imposed restrictions on the importation of pre-packed salt. The importation of salt in quantities of 500g and 1kg was banned, only allowing for salt importation in minimum quantities of 100kg. 

According to the ministry, the restrictions were made where the raw material is available locally and there was a need to develop the value chain of the specific sector.

Yet in 2014, the government also developed guidelines to control the export of ferrous and non-ferrous metal waste and scrap, a move aimed at improving the accessibility of scrap metal-to-metal foundries/processors in order for them to maximise their production.

The restrictions are expected to lead to a decline of import goods from Botswana’s trading partners in the region. Former minister of investment, trade and industry, Vincent Seretse, early this year revealed that long trading partners, Botswana and Zimbabwe have realised a decline in trade amounting to P275 million between 2012 and 2016. Zimbabwe is Botswana’s constant supplier of timber, sugar, and cement. The minister revealed an 8% cumulative decline in imports coming from Zimbabwe.

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