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United States Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Wednesday discussed U.S.-Botswana ties during a phone call with President Mokgweetsi Masisi, complimenting him over “the critical role that Botswana plays in the southern Africa region.”
“Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke yesterday with Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi to emphasize the importance of continued U.S.-Botswana collaboration and our shared commitment to democracy,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement. “They also discussed global and regional priorities, including food security and cooperation in the health sector.”
Senior American officials, including Blinken, have been in contact with African leaders ahead of the U.S.-Africa summit next December. The White House said last week that the list of those invited and the process of inviting them have not been made public.
United States President Joseph R. Biden Jr. announced on July 20 that he will be hosting African leaders in Washington D.C. on December 13-15 for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.
“I look forward to hosting leaders from across the African continent in Washington, DC on December 13-15, 2022, for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit,” President Biden said in a statement at the time. “The Summit will demonstrate the United States’ enduring commitment to Africa, and will underscore the importance of U.S.-Africa relations and increased cooperation on shared global priorities.”
He added, “The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit will build on our shared values to better foster new economic engagement; reinforce the U.S.-Africa commitment to democracy and human rights; mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and of future pandemics; work collaboratively to strengthen regional and global health; promote food security; advance peace and security; respond to the climate crisis; and amplify diaspora ties.”
Botswana has been recovering from the coronavirus pandemic, and on Thursday, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced that it had concluded the Article IV consultation with Botswana and complimented its economic growth following a lower output in 2020 and 2021 amid COVID-19 disruptions.
“A successful vaccination campaign, prudent macroeconomic management, and strong demand for diamonds have allowed Botswana to recover to its pre-pandemic output level,” the IMF wrote. “The economy grew by 11.4 percent in 2021. Fiscal and current account deficits both narrowed sharply, and foreign reserves stabilized. Inflation, however, exceeded the central bank’s medium-term 3–6 percent objective range, while unemployment rose close to record highs. To combat rising inflation, the Bank of Botswana raised the newly introduced Monetary Policy Rate (MOPR) by a combined 101 basis points in April and June 2022.”
The IMF said growth is projected at about 4¼ percent in 2022 and 4 percent per annum through the medium term, adding that “relatively low fiscal buffers and continued reliance on mining expose Botswana to external shocks, such as geopolitical and climate shocks.”
“The outlook depends on the course of the war in Ukraine, the pandemic, and implementation of fiscal consolidation and economic diversification plans. With inflation projected at 11 percent in 2022, additional monetary tightening will be required. In addition, some fiscal support may be needed to cushion the most vulnerable households from the effects of rising global inflation. Accelerated implementation of the “Reset Agenda” should help to diversify the economy towards financial services (facilitated by fintech), manufacturing, and tourism. This will also help create the jobs needed to reduce unemployment and absorb the 35,000 annual labor market entrants,” added the IMF.