Botswana advised to establish AGOA office
Speaking this week during the validation workshop of the draft AGOA strategy in Gaborone, George Makore said the AGOA office should be headed by a coordinator to be assisted by experts in export development, investment promotion, and information dissemination.
“The process of setting up the institutional structure should be initiated within 60 days of approval of the strategy,” he stated.
While the ministry of investment, trade and industry will be the custodian of the AGOA response strategy, Makore said the implementation requires continuous efforts by all parties driven by a high level body, coordinated by the ministry.
He said the strategy planning and oversight process should be firmly integrated into and anchored by the annual and multi-year public investment planning and budgeting process.
He also proposed that the institutional structure for the strategy should be led by the Botswana AGOA reference group, reporting to the Economic Development and Trade Council.
He stated that the institutional structure will ensure effective implementation of the strategy.
According to Makore, there were some challenges identified from the stakeholder consultations and through the analysis of several documents that Botswana needs to address to improve the utilisation of AGOA. “The overarching challenges are inadequate awareness of AGOA, insufficient investment from the United States (US), high cost of production and transport, poor competitiveness, and compliance with US regulations,” he said. He however pointed out that for Botswana to achieve its broad objective for the AGOA strategy, it should establish an effective national AGOA response strategy, institutional structure and create adequate awareness on the AGOA facility and US market needs.
“There is need to create awareness on existing government incentive programmes and coordinate skills development to develop relevant industry skills that are public-private sector driven,” said Makore.
He also highlighted the need to capacitate local quality infrastructure to improve competitiveness, as well as facilitating an investment friendly environment.
He said the country should conduct investment missions to the US and other targeted countries to attract investment, adding that priority sectors should be capacitated and associations supported to increase production capacity and to improve the quality of products. “Facilitate regional integration in identified sectors to address production capacity issues and to develop markets for local products,” he said.
The consultant further recommended the engagement of local and regional US government agencies for technical assistance and how to access them, as well as facilitating reduction of cost of production.
He went on to suggest identification and implementation of essential industry incentives to improve export competitiveness, and that trade facilitation tools should be implemented to alleviate time and cost of doing business. “Improve coordination of local suppliers to address challenges with production capacity and cost of transport,” Makore urged.