Overcoming Economic and Social Challenges amid and after COVID-19

SHARE   |   Wednesday, 22 July 2020   |   By By H.e. Dr. Zhao Yanbo, Chinese Ambassador To Botswana
H.E. Dr. Zhao Yanbo, Chinese Ambassador to Botswana H.E. Dr. Zhao Yanbo, Chinese Ambassador to Botswana

According to the latest World Economic Outlook by the International Monetary Fund, China will become the only major economy to achieve positive growth in 2020. A series of recent macroeconomic data have also echoed the view: profits of industrial enterprises turn positive, index of services production turns up from down, the year-on-year decline of total retail sales of consumer goods narrows sharply, electricity consumption and rail freight volume increase successively, and overseas capital continues to flow in. As the world's second-largest economy and the largest developing country, China's role as “ballast” and “engine” for the global economy has become increasingly apparent. With the world hit hard by the epidemic, what is the secret behind China’s economic success against all odds? This can be attributed to the Chinese government's relentless efforts in pandemic control as well as resumption of work and production. Multiple measures were implemented to ensure the steady growth of the economy:

First, supporting business through relief measures. Further deducting taxes and fees which would amount to more than US$360 billion this year. Strengthening financial support by reducing financing costs and deferring loan repayment deadlines for SMEs.

Second, stabilizing job markets to protect employment. Encouraging enterprises to keep jobs by offering subsidies and exempting social security costs. Broadening employment channels for key groups such as college graduates. Assisting migrant workers and poor laborers to return to work and providing online skills training.

Third, stimulating consumption and demand. Tapping in consumption potential by means such as issuing consumption coupons, holding shopping festivals and live streaming sales. Expanding domestic demand by carrying out large-scale infrastructure projects which would increase the production of upstream and downstream industries.

Fourth, developing and boosting digital economy. Accelerating the construction of new infrastructure such as 5G network and data centers as well as related industries such as smart logistics and big data. Promoting deep integration of digital economy and real economy. Improving innovation capabilities to inject new momentum into economic growth.

As the pandemic is still rampant around the world, China and Botswana are both faced with the tasks of guarding against imported cases and resurgence of indigenous cases, as well as stabilizing economy and protecting people's livelihood. Recently, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development of Botswana issued a draft plan for economic recovery and transformation, which puts forward many good strategies for post-pandemic economic development. Based on my personal observation, I’d like to share a few suggestions in this regard:

First, to stabilize employment by infrastructure projects. Carrying out infrastructure construction is the simplest, fastest and most effective way to increase employment during a crisis. Employment, once stabilized, could contribute to economic and social development.


Second, to ensure people’s livelihood by developing agriculture. Botswana is gifted with a vast territory, which enjoys huge potential for agricultural development. As the pandemic triggered the alarm for global food security, Botswana should take this opportunity to formulate a modern agricultural development strategy to achieve self-sufficiency.


Third, to protect economy by restoring tourism. Focusing on the post-COVID economy, while opening up the domestic tourism market in an orderly manner, Botswana should expand publicity to attract more international tourists. At the same time, it could try "travel online" or "travel via live streaming" and other models to explore new opportunities in the tourism industry.


Fourth, to adjust economic structure by digital economy. This round of pandemic has brought opportunities for the accelerated development of digital economy, which could not only offset the negative impact of the pandemic, but also help Botswana catch up with the fourth industrial revolution and achieve the objective of building a knowledge-based economy. Botswana cannot afford to be left behind.


China, gifted with the largest domestic market, the constantly optimized business environment, the world's leading industrial clusters, and fast-growing high technologies, offers abundant business opportunities for the rest of the world. It is my hope that Botswana will seize the opportunity to aboard the express train of China's development to promote its own economic development amid and after COVID-19.


At the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19 held in June, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that China will continue to do whatever it can to support Africa's response to COVID-19 and explore broader cooperation with Africa in such new business forms as digital economy, smart city, clean energy, and 5G to boost Africa's development and revitalization. China is willing to work with Botswana to jointly implement the outcomes of the summit and deepen practical cooperation in such areas as infrastructure, trade, tourism, agriculture and ICT so as to support Botswana's quick recovery from the pandemic.