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Trade Profile

Foreign Trade in Figures

Botswana has made significant efforts to open up to international trade and strengthen its integration in the region, despite its geographical position. The country is a member of several regional and trade organisations: the WTO, the SACU (South African Customs Union) and the SADC (Southern African Development Community), and signed trade agreements with the European Union and the United States. Botswana is among the freest economies in Sub-Saharan Africa. International commerce accounted for 105% of the country's GDP (2015, WTO, latest available data).

The country experienced a trade deficit due to the global financial crisis in 2009; however, its trade balance has since returned to positive levels. Diamond exports (88% of the total in 2016) experienced only a slight increase in 2015 and 2016, due to weak international demand and a drop in global prices; however, the country should be able to maintain a trade surplus in the coming years. Exports of copper and nickel have also taken a hit in recent years. The country is importing increasing amounts of equipment to diversify its economy. The cost of imports has therefore increased. Botswana also has a preferential trade agreement (AGOA), which facilitates exports to the United States. In February 2016, the Government announced that it would be taking greater advantage of the agreement

The South African Customs Union, the European Union, the United Arab Emirates, India and Canada are the country’s leading commercial partners. In 2016, trade slowed down with imports decreasing by 19.2% and exports decreasing by 29.8%, mainly due to a decline in diamond exports (-29.2%). Botswana primarily exports diamonds, copper, nickel, machinery and electrical equipment, meat, salt, vehicles and transport equipment, gold and textiles and seeks to increase its coal exports (second largest reserve in Africa). As such, the country plans to expand its railway infrastructure. Botswana primarily imports diamonds, foodstuffs, machinery, electrical products, fuel, chemical products, vehicles, metal, textiles, wood and paper. The country is heavily dependent on electricity imports, as it only produces domestically 60% of its needs.

 
Foreign Trade Indicators 20122013201420152016
Imports of Goods (million USD) 8,0258,3528,0716,3486,120
Exports of Goods (million USD) 5,9717,9118,5096,1417,365
Imports of Services (million USD) 727774681596n/a
Exports of Services (million USD) 1,0091,1671,2451,1181,299
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 3211-10n/a
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 18368-17n/a
Trade Balance (million USD) -2,444-280523-816n/a
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 109123115106n/a
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 60615454n/a
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 48626152n/a

Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank - Latest available data.

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2016
Belgium 18.9%
India 15.1%
South Africa 13.6%
Namibia 11.6%
United Arab Emirates 9.7%
Israel 6.1%
Singapore 5.6%
Canada 5.0%
Switzerland 2.6%
Hong Kong 2.5%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2016
South Africa 64.6%
Namibia 10.5%
Canada 5.6%
India 2.6%
Belgium 2.6%
Mozambique 1.9%
China 1.5%
Germany 1.4%
United Kingdom 1.3%
Israel 0.9%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data

 

Main Products

7.3 bn USD of products exported in 2016
Diamonds, whether or not worked, but not mounted or set (excl. unmounted stones for pick-up styluses, worked stones, suitable for use as parts of meters, measuring instruments or other articles of chapter 90) 88.1%
Nickel mattes, nickel oxide sinters and other intermediate products of nickel metallurgy : 3.2%
Insulated incl. enamelled or anodised wire, cable incl. coaxial cable and other insulated electric conductors, whether or not fitted with connectors; optical fibre cables, made-up of individually sheathed fibres, whether or not assembled with electric conductors or fitted with connectors 1.6%
Meat of bovine animals, fresh or chilled 0.7%
Meat of bovine animals, frozen 0.7%
Carbonates; peroxocarbonates percarbonates; commercial ammonium carbonate containing ammonium carbamate 0.5%
Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form 0.5%
Salts, incl. table salt and denatured salt, and pure sodium chloride, whether or not in aqueous solution or containing added anti-caking or free-flowing agents; sea water 0.3%
Tubes, pipes and hoses, and fittings therefor, e.g. joints, elbows, flanges, of plastics 0.3%
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 0.2%
6.1 bn USD of products imported in 2016
Diamonds, whether or not worked, but not mounted or set (excl. unmounted stones for pick-up styluses, worked stones, suitable for use as parts of meters, measuring instruments or other articles of chapter 90) 28.3%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 10.3%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses incl. those in the form of transdermal administration or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 2.6%
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 2.6%
Electrical energy 2.3%
Motor vehicles for the transport of goods, incl. chassis with engine and cab 1.9%
Nickel ores and concentrates 1.3%
Parts suitable for use solely or principally with the machinery of heading 8425 to 8430, n.e.s. 1.1%
Maize or corn 1.0%
Insulated incl. enamelled or anodised wire, cable incl. coaxial cable and other insulated electric conductors, whether or not fitted with connectors; optical fibre cables, made-up of individually sheathed fibres, whether or not assembled with electric conductors or fitted with connectors 0.8%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data

 
 
 

Main Services

1.4 bn USD of services exported in 2015
Travel
76.08%
Other business services
9.53%
Government services
5.40%
Construction services
4.43%
Transportation
3.31%
Communications services
0.63%
Insurance services
0.35%
Computer and information services
0.21%
Financial services
0.06%
Royalties and license fees
0.01%
0.7 bn USD of services imported in 2015
Travel
40.67%
Other business services
24.81%
Government services
12.69%
Communications services
5.41%
Transportation
4.86%
Insurance services
3.15%
Construction services
2.87%
Computer and information services
2.02%
Cultural and recreational services
1.76%
Royalties and license fees
1.31%
Financial services
0.46%

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data

 
 

Trade Compliance

International Conventions
Member of World Trade Organisation
Main International Economic Cooperation
Member of Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU)

Member of Southern African Development Committee (SADC)

Member of African Union

Member of Commonwealth of Nations

Useful Resources
The national customs website
National Organisation of Intellectual Property
Companies and Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA), Ministry of Trade & Industry
 
 
 

 

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Last Updates: June 2017