TRADE promotion body, ZimTrade says Bulawayo-based companies should take advantage of their proximity to Botswana and saturate the neighbouring country’s market with their products.

ZimTrade said Zimbabwe stands to benefit a lot from Botswana as the country was currently diversifying its economy from diamond-based into other sectors such as manufacturing and agriculture which presented Zimbabwean manufacturers an opportunity.

“In view of its proximity to Botswana, Zimbabwean firms, especially Bulawayo companies, are better placed to saturate the Botswana market,” ZimTrade said.

“Botswana currently imports up to 95% of its products from South Africa but there is room for Zimbabwe to increase exports into the country,” it said.

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Botswana’s major source markets for agriculture implements are South Africa at 88%, followed by China at 3% while Korea, Germany, USA, Zambia and Namibia each contribute 1%. Buyers from Botswana, who attended the ZimTrade annual exporters’ conference held in Bulawayo recently, expressed interest in sourcing from Zimbabwe, saying local products were of high quality.

The regional buyers, according to ZimTrade, spoke highly on the demand for Zimbabwean products in their respective markets, encouraging more local businesses to be involved in exporting to regional markets.

Abuda Atelela, an official from J Haskins & Sons, one of Botswana’s leading building and construction suppliers, said the Botswana construction market was hungry for Zimbabwean-produced timber which makes up over 50% of the houses built in Botswana.

“Our market likes and is actually addicted to Zimbabwean products like timber. For instance, we know what Border Timbers and Wattle timber products look like by merely looking at them, but where are the doors and other furniture products?” Atelela said.

Zimbabwe and Botswana are also both members of the SADC Trade Protocol, an agreement between SADC member States to reduce customs duties and other barriers to trade on products from each other. Buyers also hammered the importance of certification to regional and global standards. They said failure to adhere to standards was a huge setback for exporters, and failure to meet standards could affect companies’ credibility on the markets.

“Buyers also discouraged local companies from repackaging cheap imported goods as this can impact negatively on the reputation of an entire sector or industry,” ZimTrade said