Botswana has a growing trade deficit with China as imports have been increasing over the last five years while exports to China have been decreasing. In 2020, the trade deficit was recorded at over $149 million, BusinessMonitor has learnt. Botswana’s export to China has decreased over the years since 2016.
Exports to China were recorded at about $44 million then, while in 2020 exports had dropped to about $2 million. Speaking during the China-Botswana investment promotion webinar, which was themed technological innovation, mining and minerals beneficiation, Botswana Investment and Trade Industry (BITC) executive director Business Intelligence, Botho Bayendi said while 2020 was characterised by disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic generally, export to China was still on the decline.
“Major exports include vegetable saps and extracts, articles of apparel and clothing, and industrial goods,” she said.
However, Bayendi said imports from China have been generally increasing over the last five years. In 2020 imports stood at over $151 million, an increase from about $121 million recorded in 2019. Major imports are industrial goods including machinery, medical instruments and apparatus, furniture, and clothing and apparel.
She said according to the trade decision support model, Botswana has about P13.7 billion of untapped export potential in China. “Most opportunities are in meat and meat products, which are large and growing. There is also an opportunity to export live cattle. The two opportunities are consistent with Botswana’s comparative advantage in cattle production and export,” she said. According to Bayendi, the two other opportunities do exist in the entire cattle production value chain including vaccines, and hides and skins. She said another notable export potential exists in foodstuffs, plastic pipes and tubes, fabric, iron and steel products.
Annually, the BITC, which is the country’s lead agency for attracting investment and promoting exports, increases its targets by a minimum of 10%. In the year ended March 2020, the BITC attracted foreign direct investment worth P1.4 billion against a target of P2 billion. Further, the centre registered P1.6 billion in domestic investments against a target of P1.9 billion.