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Refund Facility Allows Seamless Flow Of Covid-19 Products

PAULINE DIKUELO
The Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry (MITI) has put in place a ‘refund’ facility which is aimed at allowing easier and cheaper access to products used in the fight against COVID-19.

MITI permanent secretary, Keganele Malikongwa said the facility will exist indefinitely and subject to periodic review.

“As such we aim to ramp up local production of these products which should in future lead to self-dependence,” Malikongwa said. The Southern African Customs Union (SACU) Agreement allows member states to grant a rebate on the customs duties in respect of goods imported into its area.

This is when such rebates are for the relief of the distress of persons and cases of famine and other national disasters government has issues rebate for the products listed in the amended schedule to the Exercise Duty Act. SACU member states are South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and eSwatini.

Those that make the product list are mainly items to be used in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

These may be medical and pharmaceutical supplies, food items that include non-alcohol beverages (raw sugar and grain milling) veterinary medication, cleaning and hygiene (alcohol for industrial use), motor vehicle (ambulances) and textile (fabrics and yarn).

“The objective is to allow

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easier and cheaper access to medical pharmaceutical and related products together with inputs for industrial production especially for food from all over the world having realised that access to these from our normal supplies has been made difficult by the period of lockdown in the region,” she said.

Botswana and five other Southern African states have finalised a deal that will allow trade with the United Kingdom (UK) to continue seamlessly whether or not that country leaves the European Union (EU). Botswana is chair of the “SACU plus Mozambique” trading bloc that has been negotiating to ensure that the preferential terms of Economic Partnership Agreement it secured with the EU in 2016, continues with the UK even when the country leaves the EU.

The SACU + M bloc has been in negotiations with the UK since that country accelerated its plans to leave the EU, a move colloquially known as Brexit.

Trade ministers from all the countries recently met in Botswana to finalise arrangements for a post-Brexit deal.



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