Botswana is to continue benefiting from its cooperation with the European Union – EU despite the uncertainty stemming from the United Kingdom’s decision to exit the European common market.
Botswana’s Ambassador to Belgium and permanent delegation to the European Union, Mr Samuel Outlule said in an interview with BOPA on the sidelines of the Botswana heads of missions conference in Gaborone that said Botswana’s trading agreements with the EU were still in effect, and that the legal aspects of British separation from the EU (or ‘Brexit’ as it has come to be popularly known) were still to be ascertained.
“Of course, there are a lot of questions that are still to be answered because the relationship evolved for over 40 years, hence there has been a number of laws and regulatory arrangements with regard to trade. So we are yet to know if the agreements of separation will not disrupt the existing commercial and economic relations,” he said.
Mr Outlule said over the years, Botswana has had a strong partnership and cooperation with the EU. He said through the cooperation, Botswana’s beef market benefitted because the EU offered high prices, which has been the case for an extended amount of time to the present.
He said other arrangements include the stabilisation export that Botswana has benefited from over the years, as well as other resources that were made available to a number of Botswana’s development programs.
“Therefore the decision by the UK to leave the EU comes at a time when the EU has developed as a union to a very high level of integration. As you may be aware, there is a single market that the European Commission has substantial authority to act on behalf of the member states,” Ambassador Outlule said.
He said for the UK to continue enjoying the single market, it would take the other 27 countries to decide on the terms of the relationship.
“We are looking at what it means for us as individual countries. We should understand what trade arrangements we had with the UK as we deal with the legal aspects of the UK’s exit and economic partnership elements of their participation with us. I guess neither of us would wish for our trading arrangements be disrupted,” he said.
Mr Outlule said the UK continues to contribute to the European Development Fund, which he said were important to some of the programs that are of benefit to Botswana and fellow member states of the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP).
Such programs include the National Indicative Programme, and the UK as a member of the EU contributes to their facilitation as a signatory of the economic partnership that was signed in Botswana last year.
The UK was party to the agreement until Brexit, which Mr Outlule said had created uncertainty because the UK must first deal with elements of separation from EU.
Ambassador Outlule further said although Botswana has a long-standing relationship with the EU, it was not clear yet as to what the implications of the UK leaving the EU would be for Botswana.
Reference: Botswana Government Facebook page