|RESPONSE TO THE MMEGI ARTICLE ON CHINESE TRADERS THAT APPEARED ON MMEGI NEWSPAPER DATED 27 JANUARY 2009|
The Ministry of Trade and Industry, would like to put on record that the article on Chinese traders, entitled “Government Moves To Ban Chinese Trade in Clothes”, that appeared on the Mmegi issue of 27 January 2009 is factually incorrect and therefore misleading.
The ministry wishes to make it categorically clear, that the government does not have a policy that discriminates against any nationality or any business entities including the Chinese business community residing in Botswana. All other shops or businesses, including the Chinese shops, are governed by the Trade Act, 2003 and its Trade Regulations of 2008.
The truth of the matter is that the Ministry of Trade and Industry has, in respect of existing businesses, directed that operators that sell goods that were unrelated, that is, those that were essentially General Dealers, which are reserved for citizens only under the new Trade Act, should be licensed on condition that they rearrange their operations, within a period of 24 months. This decision was made in recognition of the fact that certain non-citizens previously circumvented the reservation policy and used the Specialized Dealer’s license to operate essentially as General Dealers. Under the new Trade Act, the miscellaneous license specifies that goods or services should be of a similar range of products.
Members of the public are further informed that licenses reserved for citizens of Botswana or for companies wholly owned by the citizens of Botswana are;
1. Auctioneer’s licence
2. Car Wash licence
3. Cleaning Services licence
4. Curio Shop licence
5. Fresh Produce licence
6. Funeral Parlour licence
7. General Clothing licence
8. General Dealer’s licence
9. Hairdresser’s licence
10. Hire Service licence
11. Laundromat licence
12. Petrol Filling Station licence and
13. Take away licence
Government has also introduced a joint venture arrangement in which citizens have no less than 51 percent beneficial ownership of the joint venture. However, under section 15 (3) of the Trade Act of 2004, the Minister has authority to grant a waiver for citizens to hold less than 51 percent in the joint venture depending on the strength of circumstances presented by applicants.
The mandate of the Ministry of Trade and Industry is to facilitate trade and at the same time ensure that the business environment is not fraught with unfair business practices. This is done by amongst other things, monitoring that businesses adhere to the requisite statutes and taking action as may be required to remedy any unlawful practices.
(Source: Press Release from the Ministry of Trade and Industry of Botswana)