The Commissioner of the Ethiopian Commission and the head of the EU delegation to Ethiopia delivered key note addresses at the EUBFE thematic networking event

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EUBFE was honored with the presence of HE Dr. Belachew Mekuria, Commissioner-Ethiopian Investment Commission and Ambassador Johan Borgstam, Head-EU Delegation for Ethiopia on its thematic networking event held on July 13, 2018. The event was co-hosted by the Ethiopia-Netherlands Business Association (ENLBA), a national member association of EUBFE. It drew significant participants from the business as well as the diplomatic community.

Ambassador Johan started off by congratulating Dr. Belachew on his appointment to lead the Ethiopian Investment Commission. He also reiterated on the positive changes the country is going through, with more conducive business environment on the horizon. He also congratulated the successes EUBFE has continued to achieve and encouraged continuous productive engagement with the Ethiopian authorities.  

In his opening remark Chairman of EUBFE Mr. Ben Depraetere highlighted the current developments in the country and the challenges EU businesses face. He also pointed out success stories of previous high-level engagements with authorities of the Ethiopian government such as resolving business visa challenges, promising reforms within ERCA. He, however stressed the need to urgently addess the forex allocation unpredictability. The joint steering committee with the Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority (ERCA) has been successful in tackling recurrent challenges EU businesses face on a regular basis.

 HE Dr. Belachew’s address

 HE Dr. Belachew on his part addressed the audience following the ambassador’s speech. He started off by appreciating the congratulatory remarks and for the opportunity to address EU businesses. He highlighted the positive developments the country is witnessing including the peace treaty with Eritrea and opening of various sectors for FDI, including the logistics sector. He appreciated the quality of investment from EU zones in relation to technology transfer and job creation. He also indicated that preparation for the EU-Ethiopia investment summit planned to be held in Brussels is underway and the date will be communicated shortly.

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How can EU businesses be of assistance?

 The floor was open for Q&A following his address to which the commissioner made candid explanations. Questions raised include recurrent power-cuts, issues on import substitution not being viewed on equal terms as exports, significant disparity in services rendered by investment bureau in regional governments as opposed to federal one as well as general challenges businesses in the manufacturing sector face. In his response HE Dr. Belachew said power-cuts are mainly due to old grid-lines to which the government is working on modernizing. He concurs a lot needs to be done to substitute imports and encourage manufacturing, in general. A tax regime review can be on instrument in this regard. Regional governments are politically committed to promoting FDI, although it can be the case that the bureaucratic bottlenecks do remain a challenge. HE Dr. Belachew was particularly pleased with one concluding question from participants asking him “how can we be of assistance to the EIC?”. He believes not much has been done to learn and make use of the knowledge from within EU businesses and promised improved engagement in this regard.

 

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Farewell Chris and Carl

The official address was followed up by a farewell note to the founding board chairman of EUBFE Mr. Chris De Muynck and the departing economic attaché of the EU Delegation Mr. Carl Daspect. As a token of appreciation for their relentless efforts in elevating EUBFE to its current status, the chairman of EUBFE awarded both with a local artwork.

Mr. Chris was the founding chairman of the EUBFE, guiding the association into becoming an umbrella EU chamber with strong working relations with the Ethiopian Revenue and Customs authority as well as the Ethiopian Investment Commission. Together with the outgoing economic attaché of the EUD Mr. Carl Daspect, he led EUBFE into becoming member of the global network of EU chambers. The EUBFE community extends its warmest gratitude to immense contributions of both Mr. Chris De Muynck and Mr Carl Daspect.

 

The event continued with informal networking and cocktail reception until 7:40 pm during which members of ENLBA and EUBFE mingled with other guests and invited diplomatic community .

 

 

 

Panel discussion on the impact of the recent Ethiopian Birr devaluation

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On December 8th, 2017, the EUBFE, together with the American Chamber of Commerce in Ethiopia, organised an event to discuss the impact of the recent Birr devaluation.
 
Dr. Yohannes Ayalew, Vice Governor and Chief Economist at the National Bank of Ethiopia, Nora Dihel, Senior Economist at the World bank and Prof. Alemayehu Geda, Lecturer at Addis Ababa University presented their respective views and findings. A lively Q&A followed with members of the business associations.
 
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Investment Policy Dialogue

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On November 29th, 2017, took place the first Investment Policy Dialogue between the Ethiopian administration and foreign business communities. Representatives from the Ethiopian Investment Commission, the National Bank of Ethiopia and from the Main Department for Immigration and Nationality Affairs were present as well as members of the American, Chinese, Dutch, EU, French and Indian business communities.


The two topics at the agenda were (i) improving the allocation of forex and (ii) better immigration procedures. Following initial recommendations made by the business communities in June 2017, both Immigration and NBE came prepared to the meeting offering concrete solutions and commitments. EIC and the business communities also agreed on the steps forward in order to keep this Public-Private Dialogue productive and sustainable.

Intellectual Property rights protection in Ethiopia

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On September 6th, 2017, the EUBFE together with Mehrteab Leul & Associates Law Office, held a session on the protection of Intellectual Property rights under Ethiopian law. Discussions centered on trademarks registration and protection.

European Business Organisation Worldwide Network (EBOWWN)'s Annual General Assembly

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The EUBFE participated from June 19 to June 21 to EBOWWN's AGM where its application to become a member of the organisation was accepted. By joining EBOWWN, the EUBFE will benefit from best practices sharing, will establish itself as the official representative of the EU business community in Ethiopia and will be able to raise important issues faced by EU businesses in developing countries. More information on EBOWWN can be found on its website (wwww.ebowwn.eu)
 
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EUBFE 1st Thematic Breakfast

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On June 14th, 2017, the EUBFE held its first Thematic Breakfast, at the Ramada Addis. The Guest Speaker, H.E Dr. Yohannes Ayalew - Chief Economist and Vice Governor of Monetary Stability at the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) presented the view of the NBE on FOREX, notably regarding: (i) current conditions; (ii) considered solutions by the NBE to improve the situation; and (iii) forecast for the short to medium-term. A lively Q&A session followed.
 
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EUBFE Official Launching

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On March 29th, 2017, the European Union Business Forum in Ethiopia (EUBFE) celebrated its official launching, following its formal registration as 'Foreign Investors Association' under Ethiopian law. The registration shall facilitate the work towards achieving EUBFE's main mission: to improve the business environment in Ethiopia in order to enhance commercial and economic ties between the EU and Ethiopia.
 
The EUBFE was initially established in 2012, with the support of the EU Delegation to Ethiopia, in response to the need for (i) a sustained dialogue between the EU business community and the Ethiopian authorities; and (ii) a platform for networking and information-sharing between EU businesses. Over the past five years, the EUBFE has become a respected unified platform of EU investors in Ethiopia, an excellent source of information for existing and potential EU investors, and has become increasingly engaged in an open and constructive dialogue with the Ethiopian government on systemic issues affecting the business climate in the country.
 
In order to celebrate this new chapter in the relationship between the EU business community and Ethiopia, representatives from the Ethiopian administration, EU embassies and EU companies participated to the launching ceremony organised at the Sheraton Addis.
 
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New Memorandum of Understanding with ERCA

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In December 2016, the EUBFE signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with ERCA in order to facilitate information-sharing and to provide a channel for the EU business community to raise its issues and to express its remarks and questions. The new MoU notably set-up a Steering Committee in charge of ensuring the effectiveness of the MoU and to facilitate discussions. 
 
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EUBFE 4th Year Anniversary

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On June 28th, 2016, the EUBFE celebrated its 4th Year Anniversary. This event was also the the opportunity for the EUBFE to sign a Cooperation Agreement with the Ethiopian Investment Commission, represented by H.E Commissioner Fitsum Arega, a first step towards full recognition by the Government of Ethiopia.

3rd Thematic Cocktail

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On March 10th, 2016, the EUBFE organised its 3rd thematic cocktail. Ato Nebiyou Samuel, Head of the Director General's Office at the Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority (ERCA) presented the Authorized Economic Operators program and the Electronic Single Window System. The presentation was followed by a lively Q&A and a networking cocktail.

The Economist - Ethiopia Summit

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The EU Business Forum in Ethiopia supports the Ethiopia Summit, organised by The Economist. With the general elections firmly behind us and the incumbent pressing on with Ethiopia's economic advances, the Economist Ethiopia Summit will take place at an optimum time. By bringing together the country's leading policy makers and business leaders with multinational executives active or interested in expanding in Ethiopia, opportunities will be explored and challenges tackled.

Awex - Belgium Delegation in Addis Ababa

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Mid-January, a delegation of Belgian companies from Wallonia, came to Ethiopia for a series of B2B events  and meetings with high-ranking officials to discover the business opportunities offered by the Ethiopian market.
 
EUBFE representatives were present at the Embassy of Belgium during a cocktail to welcome the delegation and then for a roundtable meeting to provide its view of the Country, development and challenges, alongside the EU Delegation, the IMF and local businessmen. 

Joint EU investment mission to Ethiopia

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The East Africa Association – in close collaboration with the EU Delegation to Ethiopia and the EU Business Forum to Ethiopia – organised on 13 and 14 March the first ever EU Joint Investment Mission to Ethiopia. Over 40 companies in a wide range of sectors visited Addis Ababa over the course of two days toexplore business opportunities in the country. 
 
Presentations were made to the mission by – amongst others – the State Minister of Industry, the Director General of the Ethiopian Investment Agency, the resident representative of the IMF as well as the economists from the World Bank and the EU. 
 
The mission also visited the Bole Lemin Industrial Zone, accompanied by EU Ambassador Chantal Hebberecht and enjoyed a lunch with around 10 EUBFE members to exchange on doing business in Ethiopia. With several companies planning a follow-up visit in the coming weeks and days, it seems quite ikely that EUBFE can soon welcome some new members.

Welcoming the Finnish Prime Minister's Delegation

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A delegation of 21 Finnish companies, headed by the Finnish Prime Minister, H.E. Jyrki Katainen and supported by FinPro (the foreign trade support of Finland) came to Ethiopia late January 2014 to follow-up or assess investment and trade opportunities in the Country. 
 
The companies operated in various sector, with a focus on energy and infrastructure (ELTEL, EMPOER OY, ENSTO FINLAND OY) and agriculture and land management (ARBONAUT OY, GEOLOGICAL SURVEY OF FINLAND, JPT-INDUSTRIA OY).
 
12 EUBFE members participated in the lunch held on January 27, 2014 at the Radisson Blu Hotel, in order  to exchange with their Finnish counterparts. Following an introductory speech by Mr Chris de Muynck, EUBFE Chairman and Mrs Barbara Plinkert, EU Delegation Chargé d’Affaires, the Finnish Prime Minister discussed opportunities and challenges facing EU companies doing business in Ethiopia.
 
The visit of the Finnish delegation continued the following day with a large workshop at the Sheraton Hotel, with the participation of H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn, Ethiopia Prime Minister, and various high ranking officials from the Ethiopian public and private sectors.
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