President Cyril Ramaphosa at the South Africa-Botswana Business Roundtable
Your Excellency Mokgweetsi Masisi, President of the Republic of Botswana,
Your Excellencies High Commissioners of both South Africa and Botswana,
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Colleagues and Friends,
Your Excellency, Mr President,
I am pleased that the undertaking we gave each other in April this year to hold this engagement has now materialised. We have been looking forward to this visit to Gaborone to commemorate and celebrate 28 years of diplomatic ties between our two countries.
The trade and investment ties between our two countries have grown stronger over the years. They lay a firm basis for even greater economic cooperation and integration into the future. My delegation comprises Ministers and officials, and representatives from our state-owned companies, financial institutions and South African business.
I am encouraged by the work that has already begun through our respective Trade and Industry Ministers to align our plans towards a common SACU plan of action for operationalising the African Continental Free Trade Area. The joint export promotion platforms that are being discussed at SACU level for leveraging AfCFTA trade opportunities are promising. I urge that the same vigour be given to concluding the work of creating industrial value-chains in the SACU.
Through these value-chains we will be able to grow our industrial exports to the rest of the continent. New markets in West, East, North and Central Africa hold immense potential for both South Africa and Botswana. We will be able to produce and export local goods, products and services to our fellow African countries that would otherwise be sourced from outside the continent.
Even as we do so, we do not seek to displace other African businesses. The intention instead is complementary trade and industrial development. Botswana and South Africa can both achieve more by working closely together. The development of value-chains can also move SACU towards a brighter new future of joint investment and development. I am also pleased to note that work is underway in SACU on a Work Programme on Industrialisation to promote industrial development and regional value chains, export promotion, investment attraction and promotion.
Work is already underway on leather and leather products, fresh produce, meat and meat products, textiles, clothing, cosmetics and essential oils. These sectors present opportunities for the development of regional value chains across region. They also present opportunities for SACU exports to the rest of Africa, to the United States under AGOA, to the European Union under the EPA, and to other strategic markets in Asia and the Middle East. There are also opportunities for further cooperation in minerals. Botswana is currently the chair of the Kimberley Process, an initiative that has successfully addressed concerns regarding the diamond industry, and last year was the world’s leading producer of diamonds by value.
In April this year you opened the first SACU Investment Roundtable in Gaborone under the theme “Positioning SACU as an industrial, investment, manufacturing and innovation hub for the African continent and beyond” This remains our collective aspiration. Over the past five years, South Africa’s foreign direct investment stock in Botswana has increased year-on-year, reaching US$ 5.1 billion in 2021. While we will continue to encourage South African investment into Botswana, we are encouraged by the Botswana companies that have already invested in South Africa. Between January 2003 and December 2021, we saw nine FDI projects from Botswana to South Africa. They attracted capital investment worth R3.9 billion, resulting in the creation of over 2,000 jobs.
We would like to see these numbers grow exponentially. Intra-African trade opportunities accruing from the AfCFTA can only be realised if we facilitate intra-Africa investments. In particular, we need to encourage our respective companies to invest in areas that will address the continent’s infrastructure and industrial deficits. South Africa is committed to supporting our partners on the continent to reach their industrialisation goals.
As Team South Africa we want to be part of the African growth story by way of strategic investments into the continent by our companies, financial institutions and state-owned companies. It is our expectation that today’s session will unpack all these matters further, and that we will jointly identify the priorities for strengthening the Botswana-South Africa economic relationship. I look forward to vibrant and productive discussions.
I thank you.
His Excellency President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his opening remarks at the South Africa-Botswana High Level Business Roundtable Meeting