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Bots, Zim explore trade opportunities

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Top government officials from Botswana and Zimbabwe as well as captains of industry from both countries this week embarked on a journey that is expected to see the countries taking advantage of trade and investment opportunities that exist between the two. Though Zimbabwe is said to be one of Botswana’s leading trade partners in the region, there has been a decline in trade between the two countries in recent years.

Speaking at the Botswana-Zimbabwe Business Forum on Tuesday, Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Vincent Seretse said Botswana’s export to Zimbabwe declined by nine percent on a cumulative basis from P827 million to P555 million between the period 2012 to 2016. Imports from Zimbabwe into Botswana on the other hand also followed a similar pattern and fell by eight percent cumulatively from the same period with the overall balance of trade in favour of Botswana. Botswana’s recorded export basket to Zimbabwe comprises of salt, veterinary medicine, live animals, vehicles among others. Zimbabwe however, has been a consistent source of timber, sugar and cement for Botswana.

Seretse said currently, there are several companies with Zimbabwean shareholding operating in Botswana’s manufacturing industry. The majority operate in the timber and sugar packaging industries. “These companies have over the years invested around P132 million in Botswana with an estimated annual turnover of P392 million,” Seretse said, adding that these companies have employed around 436 permanent employees and an additional 436 part-time employees.

This, according to Seretse, excludes one of the largest investments with Zimbabwean shareholding in the mobile telecommunications sector. Seretse believes that the existence of a Double Taxation Avoidance Treaty between Botswana and Zimbabwe will facilitate cross border value chain linkages and Joint Venture partnerships. The Treaty was singed on June 16, 2004 and ratified by Botswana on August 3, 2004 entered into force on February 25, 2008.

He further said Botswana has since proposed to amend Article 25 of the Agreement to align it with internationally agreed standards on transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes. Both Botswana and Zimbabwe are expected to have committed to sign the amended agreement by June 30, 2018. “I requests our governments to openly engage with business community and try to amicably address any issues related to Non-Tariff measures to facilitate more trade flows,” Seretse said. Botswana and Zimbabwe have trade facilitation instruments including the Botswana/Zimbabwe Bilateral Trade Agreement, which allows for goods traded between the two countries to be exempted from payment of customs duties, provided they meet the minimum requirement of 25 percent local content.

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Engen profit goes up

Koobonye Ramokopelwa

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Engen Botswana, the only listed petroleum company is expecting better results for the six months to June 2018 as a result of favourable trading environment. For the six months period to June 2017, the company made a profit of P55,2 million.

Engen, which supplies petroleum products to retail and institutional clients said, compared to the same period in 2017, profits will be higher on the backdrop of rising international crude oil prices. According to available data, oil prices jumped by 20 percent in the first six months of the year to close at $73 per barrel. Yesterday (Tuesday), oil prices were hovering at $77 per barrel.

The firm, like its peers has also been bolstered by government decision to hike petroleum prices in May. Petrol went up by 23 thebe, 45 thebe for diesel and 38 thebe for paraffin, all per litre. Eric Molale, the minister responsible for petroleum products in the country did not rule out any price increase in the foreseeable future on the backdrop of rising international oil prices.

Local users of petroleum products are not even saved by the fact that the National Petroleum Fund-which cushions customers against increasing oil prices, is fast running dry due to alleged misappropriation by those tasked with maintaining it (the Fund).

Meanwhile, Engen which is headed by Chimweta Moonga has told its shareholders that results will be out before this month ends. “Therefore shareholders are advised to exercise caution when trading in the group securities until such time as a detailed announcement is made,” said a statement from the BSE listed firm.

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Graduates urged to be innovative

Keikantse Lesemela

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Botswana Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) President, Verily Molatedi has urged graduates to look beyond job seeking and come up with creative and innovative ways to create employment and contribute to economic development.

This Monday, over 400 students graduated from Imperial School of Business and Science (ISBS) from different fields including business management, Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT), finance and banking, human resource management, tourism and hospitality management and advertising. The ceremony was the first batch of students who completed degree programmes in ISBS.

Speaking during the graduation ceremony, Molatedi said the 21st century is awash with many opportunities and challenges but it is only the optimistic that can rise above and turn challenges into opportunities. “I therefore urge all graduates to acknowledge and take advantage of the government efforts in providing facilities beyond tertiary education and contribute towards economic diversification. To this end some of you may have to be entrepreneurs,” said Molatedi.

Molatedi explained that with over 10 000 graduates annually produced in tertiary institutions, graduates must continually build their skills and think innovatively and create their own brands as this will increase their chances of employability globally.

“Employability is about making sure that you diversify your skills, get knowledge for the industry. It is the key to realizing our economic diversification agenda, and hinges on your availability to be enablers in the country’s present and future economy,” said Molatedi.

Imperial School of Business and Science Director, Nidheesh Sharma said graduates have unique professional identity and a set of values and beliefs that will allow them to continue their quest for lifelong learning and distinguish themselves in their chosen paths as the faculties offered are globally recognized.

“Previously we have had many students completing certificates and diploma programmes but this is the first batch to have completed degree programmes. Graduating annually, young professionals were imparted with the knowledge and skills that are required by the regional and global job market,” said Sharma.

Sharma highlighted that ISBS started in 2003 as a BOTA registered institute and in 2011 it registered with Tertiary Education Council (TEC) and started offering Diploma and Advanced Diploma Programmes. “In 2013, the school re-branded from its old name to current name, ISBS. In 2015, ISBS was awarded best upcoming Institution by HRDC and in 2018 HRDC put us in the top three of Private Colleges,” he said.

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