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BITC braces for coronavirus

Coronavirus impacting on inflows PIC. MORERI SEJAKGOMO
The Botswana Investment Trade Centre (BITC), the country’s lead agency for attracting investments and promoting exports, is bracing for impact as the coronavirus sweeps the globe.

Each year, the BITC holds various initiatives to attract investors and promote exports, including a packed diary of inward and outward missions designed to bring investors and local partners together. The BITC also participates in world-level marketing events to promote opportunities in Botswana and expose local businesses to opportunities on the global stage.

In the year ended March 2019, the BITC attracted foreign investment worth P3.2 billion against a target of P1.8 billion, while domestic exports reached P2.6 billion against a target of P2.7 billion. However, with an 18-country travel ban announced last March and various other restrictions placed on regional movements in order to curb the coronavirus, the BITC says it is keeping a close eye on developments.

“Botswana’s major commodity products are most likely to be impacted by the outbreak, as countries or regions mostly affected are the key driver of demand for these products,” BITC corporate affairs director, Kutlo Moagi told BusinessWeek. “Botswana’s major exports are diamonds, other minerals and beef, destined to the EU region, India, UAE and South Africa.

“These markets

have already taken a bold decision to suspend international air travel and prioritise their healthcare systems. “Additionally, there are already predictions of a decline in economic growth in most of these countries. Consequently, Botswana’s trade will experience adverse challenges, which will have to be responded to strategically.” Moagi, however, said the impact on foreign investment would not be immediate.

“Note that, new investment projects have a long gestation period and a lifecycle that can span many years,” she said.

“The immediate impact on existing investments and investment projects under construction/process is likely to be limited.

“The organisation will also continue with facilitation of domestic investment.”

In the year to March 2019, domestic investment and expansions amounted to P2.3 billion against a target of P1.9 billion. Projects finalised include those in minerals, food processing and healthcare.

The corporate affairs directors said BITC as an entity was taking the pandemic very seriously. “The organisation is continuing with its daily operations through online engagements and is observing all required precautions when engaging in person with clients,” she said.





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