CEO explains mandate
Botswana Trade Commission (BOTC) was established for the purpose of investigating and determining the impact of tariffs in Botswana’s exports and imports before providing any recommendations regarding any tariff change.
The Commission CEO Mphoeng Tamasiga clarified to the private sector on their mandate during the Business Botswana Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Wednesday. BOTC was formed through an Act of Parliament in 2013 on the backdrop of the SACU Agreement of 2002 which requires SACU member states to set up national bodies to receive requests for tariff changes.
The Commission, Tamasiga explained, makes assessments taking into consideration the impact of the proposed changes on industry competitiveness in regional and international markets and Botswana’s commitments under various regional and multilateral trade agreements to which Botswana is a member.
Some of these trade agreements are SACU, SADC EU Economic Partnership Agreement (SADC EU EPA) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
“In this regard, the extent to which tariff amendments provide protection to the Botswana manufacturing sector against competing imports as well as contributions to reduction in costs of production to local industry are important considerations,” said BOTC CEO.
Part of BOTC’s work is also to investigate allegations of dumping, subsidised exports and imports surges that affect Botswana’s trade performance. Tamasiga said in carrying out its mandate, BOTC will be cautious to ensure that trade differences do not escalate into larger trade conflicts.
Customs and tariffs and trade remedies, Tamasiga said, can be important tools for supporting the growth of domestic industries and stimulating economic development.
“However, their limited use by SADC countries, including Botswana, is due to the absence of national legal and institutional frameworks to enable domestic industry to file for protection.” Due to these limitations, Tamasiga said BOTC Act mandates it to formulate the guidelines for the application of trade remedies and tariff amendments within Botswana.
Once gazetted, Tamasiga said these guidelines will set out the legal process to be followed by local industry in lodging complaints and the procedures to be followed by the BOTC to competently carry out its investigations.
Speaking at the same AGM, Director – Investor Attraction and Monitoring at Special Economic Zones (SEZA), Joel Ramaphoi, said special economic zones will assist in fast-tracking the economy away from mining, diamonds in particular. Special economic zones, according to Ramaphoi, will offer incentives to investors such as lower taxes.
“One of the roles we play as SEZA is advocacy,” said Ramaphoi, adding that in a bid to attract investors, a suitable package is presented to them. In addition, Ramaphoi said a conducive environment for the small and medium enterprises should be created.
“We want to ensure that the economic zones are investor friendly and ensure that there are real value projects and value for money,” Ramaphoi told the private sector meeting, adding that the body acts as both a developer and a regulator.
The Business Botswana AGM was the 45th one with the organisation currently led by Gobusamang Keebine as its president.
Keebine took over in September 2017 and according to him, he inherited the organisation almost bankrupt; with internal control systems totally dysfunctional. “To get the organisation back on track, required that we all had to have “All hands on deck” and we continue to do so,” said Keebine.
He said last year they had less that 350 paying members and made a loss with an opinion given on the 2016 audited financial statements that there were more negatives about Business Botswana than positives.
As if blowing his own horn, Keebine said they have since managed to achieve positive results between now and then, qualifying his observation by saying by end of August this year, they had more than 720 members who have paid their subscriptions. This is said to have translated into revenue of close to P1 million compared to the same period last year.