Zim promises to address trade impediments

Botswana Zim meeting at Maun
Botswana Zim meeting at Maun

MAUN: At a recent business forum, participating businesspeople instantly took the Minister of Trade and Industry, Minister Mmusi Kgafela, to his word and extracted concessions from Botswana and Zimbabwean authorities.

The Botswana Trade and Investment Centre (BITC) and ZimTrade had jointly organised a business forum on the sidelines of the week-long fourth session of the Botswana/Zimbabwe Bi-National Commission (BNC) held in Maun recently. At that forum, Kgafela had implored the business forum participants “to interact, exchange and share ideas openly, identify any bottlenecks that are impediments to trade and highlight that to both BITC and ZimTrade to ensure that they are taken through the right channels to ease doing business on both countries.” The one-day business forum was also attended by Zimbabwe’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Frederick Shava. The CEOs of BITC, Kelothusitse Olebile and Allan Majura of ZimTrade, senior officials of the Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS)’s Lempheditse Odumetse and Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA)’s Bekezela Majokojoko, as well as Botswana and Zimbabwe businesspeople.

The director of a Maun-based boat manufacturing company, Aliboats, Rod Bateman brought to the attention of the authorities the near-impossible compliance requirement under a newly-introduced Zimbabwean regulation governing the entry of trailers into that country. Under the new law, exporters into Zimbabwe need to have a trailer verification certificate issued by Bureau Veritas - a testing and inspection company. Bateman explained that his frustration stems from the fact that Bureau Veritas does not have an office in Botswana and had told him that they have no intention of opening one any time soon. Even more frustrating for the Maun boat builder is that the company recently got its first bulk order of 26 boats from an exclusive agent in Zimbabwe. And the company has recently expanded its Maun workshop to accommodate that order. The Zimbabwean market is an important one for Aliboats, which sells boats all over Africa and far-afield. Bateman noted that his company has tried unsuccessfully for many years to enter the Zimbabwean market, which then had a vibrant world-class fibre-glass boat manufacturing sector. Aliboats specialises in aluminium boats.

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