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Botswana/China trade grows

GABORONE - Trade between Botswana and China is growing steadily, says out-going Chinese Ambassador Ding Xiawoen.

He said in an interview yesterday that his assignment was to promote and improve trade links between the countries.

He started the task by inviting local entrepreneurs to China to seek business opportunities.

He expressed satisfaction with what has been achieved, adding that there is a huge demand for Botswana products in China.

One of the popular products is donkey meat from Botswana, which is doing so well that local business people exporting it are planning to build a canned donkey meat processing facility.

Surprisingly, Mr Ding observed that the balance of trade favours Botswana, which last year enjoyed a trade surplus through exportation of minerals,including nickel to China.

The Chinese diplomat said he would love to see Botswana exporting its diamonds directly to China, saying his country has become the most important market for diamonds, which someday will surpass the US as the world's biggest diamond market.

Over the last two years, there has been a lot of Chinese interest in Africa to which the ambassador said is to the benefit of both China and Africa.

He said trade between the two parties was possible given the huge markets and opportunities they offer. Mr Ding noted that Chinese products were fine even though some were not of high quality .

"It is different story if the product is of poor quality," he said.

He stated that China has helped Botswana in its development endeavours by providing soft loans which have been used to provide housing and infrastructure, including two primary schools.

The Chinese embassy will provide funding for a multi purpose youth centre in Gaborone, as well as P35 million for Gaborone Botanical Garden.

Mr Ding said there is an additional P90 million grant waiting to be used. "I hope these projects can proceed a little bit quicker," he said. The two countries have undertaken cultural exchanges through which a number of local artists have been to China, while Batswana have also been treated to some of the best Chinese performances.

Mr Ding expressed hope that the cooperation will continue, saying his wish is to bring a Chinese artist to Botswana at least once a year.

He, however, said it will be difficult for him to take local artists to China as they will need a translator who also appreciates art.

Botswana Under-23 national team took part and won a four nations tournament in China last year. and Mr Ding said he wants to see more sports activities between the two nations, especially in boxing where Botswana has an upper hand.

University of Botswana will through the Confucius Institute offer Chinese language course.

The Ambassador said he cherished every moment he spent in Botswana, saying he was touched by the warmth of Batswana.

He said he was deeply touched and would never forget a moment in Shakawe, when a local lady acknowledged the assistance the Chinese offered Botswana.

He called on Batswana to learn from others and work hard to succeed in the global economy.

( BOPA )



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