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South Africa and Botswana call for win-win regional growth
South Africa and Botswana call for win-win regional growth

H.E. the President Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama joined South African Minister of Trade and Industry Dr. Rob Davis in calling for win-win approaches to regional integration and development in the SACU and wider Southern Africa region at the opening of a two day Botswana-South Africa Business Forum.

Business Forum, which has attracted the participation of over 80 business leaders, is being jointly hosted by the South African Department of Trade and Industry, Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) and the Botswana Export Development and Investment Agency (BEDIA).

In his remarks President Khama observed the South Africa was and would remain Botswana’s leading trade partner. He went on to note that that balanced development in the region was a prerequisite for balanced and sustainable growth with South Africa itself.

On the subject of regional Economic Partnership Negotiations with the European Union, Khama stated that notwithstanding some negative media reporting the Botswana and South Africa remained in broad agreement on most issues, while the few outstanding issues were being addressed bilaterally as well as through multilateral framework.

Khama went on to assure the audience the Government of Botswana, along with BEDIA, was committed to the facilitation, retention and expansion of Foreign Direct Investment. He also noted that inasmuch as South Africa served as a primary gateway for Botswana with the rest of the world, Botswana was likewise a gateway for South African exports to central Africa and beyond.

Speaking on behalf of South African President Jacob Zuma, Minister Davis expressed his appreciation of that the forum had succeeded in bring key business leaders and officials together. Citing the latest World Bank “Cost of Doing Business Report” he went on to note that Botswana had created an enabling environment for trade and investment.

Davis emphasised that the South Africa Government recognised that it was in their country’s interest, as well as that of the region as a whole to seek balanced growth.

The South Africa Minister went on to praise his Botswana counterpart, Mrs. Dorcas Magatu-Malesu for her leadership in the ongoing regional trade negotiations with the European Union.

Minister Davis further observed the potential of projects like the proposed Mmamabula power project and Trans-Kgalagadi transport links to kick-start win-win growth in the region.
Following of the opening session, President Khama departed for to pay a courtesy call on former South African President Nelson Mandela.

President Khama’s two day State Visit will end later this afternoon when he will return to Gaborone.

Yesterday President Khama and President Zuma agreed to substantially upgrade the institutional basis of the Botswana-South African bilateral relationship through the establishment of a Bi-National Commission.

The Bi-National Commission will be co-chaired by the Heads of State of the two countries and meet at least once a year, alternating its venue between the two countries.

The formation of the Bi-National Commission was announced at a joint press conference held by the two Presidents following nearly four hours of intensive talks between themselves and their delegations, which in each case consisted of Ministers responsible for such portfolio responsibilities as Presidential Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Transport and Communications, Labour and Home Affairs, Defence, Justice and Security, Trade and Industry, Environment, Wildlife and Tourism.

The long list of ministerial responsibilities represented was reflective of the many and varied bilateral issues during the talks, which were a follow up to additional bilateral discussions that have been taking place.
While (in contrast to what has been reported by some sections of the media) bilateral issues dominated yesterday’s talks the two leaders also discussed regional and international issues including developments in Zimbabwe the DRC and elsewhere in the SADC region

While noting that this was his first State Visit to South Africa, President Khama also noted that since assuming office in April 2008 he had come to South Africa on a number of official and working visits, reflecting the importance of the two countries inter-relationship.

Yesterday and today President Zuma and others stated that South Africans would never forget the solidarity and support shown by Botswana during the liberation struggle adding that South Africa’s friendship and kinship with its neighbour goes beyond normal diplomatic relations.

Zuma further noted that both countries had worked hard to deal with various challenges of economic growth and development.

"We have normalised diplomatic relations after 1994," he said, naming amongst other achievements the establishment of joint permanent commissions for and the signing of 27 bilateral agreements. Other achievements registered were in the field of good governance, food security, water, education and health, he said.

"We are pleased with the growth and friendship, solidarity with neighbour leaders and mutually beneficial co-operation between our two countries."
Zuma said this had established a firm base. Special emphasis should be placed in enhancing trade and assisting each other in expanding business opportunities. This would lead to tourism and investment promotion.

Yesterday afternoon both leaders visited South Africa's Freedom Park where President Khama laid a wreath to those who had struggled for the regions liberation.