The Impact of Trade Agreements in Developing Countries. The Case of Non-Tariff and Technical Barriers to Trade: Botswana
Since independence, the economy of Botswana has been heavily reliant on two major sectors, being the minerals (diamonds mining especially) and the agricultural sector, comprising largely of the beef sector. As the years went by, with the population of the country lingering below two million, the population of cattle in Botswana grown to a staggering 2.5 million. The growth in cattle population therefore meant that beef becomes abundant both for exporting and for local consumption as most of the local population relied on cattle as source of food. This implication on exports therefore contributed immensely to the economic development of Botswana, as beef exporting became the second exports income earners after diamonds. Prior the Lome convention of 1975, which was later replaced by the Cotonou convention of 2000, the European Union gave the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries a preferential trade access, known as the EU-ACP, to export agricultural commodities, including beef, to the European Community duty free. This then meant that the EU becomes Botswana’s largest consumer of beef. However though, the beginning of the 2000s witnessed a decline in the quantity of Botswana beef exports.
This decline of beef exports could be highly attributed to trade impediments known as the non-tariff barriers to trade, especially the technical barriers to trade. According to a paper published by the European Commission; “The term "technical barriers to trade" (TBT) refers to mandatory technical regulations and voluntary standards that define specific characteristics that a product should have, such as its size, shape, design, labelling / marking / packaging, functionality or performance.” (European Commission, 2013, p1).
This paper therefore seeks to take an analytical look at some of the factors that contributed to this decline, with a sharp focus on the non-tariff barriers to trade and the technical barriers that the beef industry of Botswana is faced, with respect to the European markets.