FRANCISTOWN: Business Botswana president Gobusamang Ebineng has expressed worry over the low level of participation of exhibitors particularly those in the private sector, at this year’s Northern Trade Fair, which is organised by the former.
He was amongst keynote speakers at the official opening of the trade fair on Friday. Ebineng also expressed strong concerns about the dwindling Business Botswana membership base.
The annual fair was launched in 1994. It was once touted as one of the biggest events in the northern part of the country, but its fortunes have been dwindling in recent years. This year, according to Ebineng, nearly 80% of exhibitors are government entities and parastatals.
“My main aim is to make sure that Botswana Business (formerly BOCCIM) becomes what it was some years ago. I want to improve stakeholder engagement and bring back members who have been walking away from Business Botswana and the trade fair.
If many private companies can constantly attend the fair in large numbers, that is when we can say we have made it as Business Botswana,” Ebineng said. One of the main purposes of the trade fair is to give private companies an opportunity to market their products and services as well as foster the growth of their ventures through interacting with each other. Ebineng also said that under his reign, he will be eager to kill the growing perception that Business
In another revelation Business Botswana intends to do all it can to help Botswana companies benefit from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) initiative.
AGOA provides duty-free market access to the United States (US) for qualifying Sub-Saharan African beneficiary countries by extending duty-free preferences available under the US Generalised System of Preferences.
In addition, AGOA provides duty-free access to textiles and apparel subject to the wearing apparel provisions, having their own requirements and rules of origin. Altogether 6,421 product lines are granted AGOA duty-free preferences. “Botswana textile companies used to benefit from the AGOA initiative. I now understand that they have lost their market to Lesotho. Botswana textile companies are said to be expensive than those in Lesotho.“
As Business Botswana we have started engaging textile companies to see how their operational formula can be revamped so that they can benefit from AGOA. I do not expect Lesotho to be expensive than Botswana in terms of labour and transportation fees,” Ebineng said, adding that Business Botswana also wants to see more Botswana companies benefiting from other AGOA tariff lines than textile.