The EU-Ethiopia Business Forum took place from 13-15 May in Brussels

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The EU-Ethiopia business forum took place in Brussels, attracting some 200 high-level investors from EU,  top officials from Ethiopian government as well as the EU Commission. Opening remark as well as presentations were made by Mr. Stefano Manservisi, Director-General for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO) of the European Commission , HE Dr. Markos Tekle, State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Abebe Abebayehu, Commissioner of Ethiopian Investment Commission as well as Ms. Eleni Kyrou, Head of the European Investment Bank representative to Ethiopia and the African Union. The goal of the forum was to provide important and practical information to potential investors who are interested in doing business in Ethiopia.As part of the forum, the EU Business Forum (EUBFE) through its board chairman Mr. Ben Depraetere, moderated a panel discussion entitled “Doing Business in Ethiopia”. The panel was composed of three notable guests;  Mr. Thomas Schaefer, Chairman and Managing Director of Volkswagen Group South Africa,  Mr. Dougie Brew, Corporate Affairs and Sustainable Business Director Africa of Unilever and Mr. Melaku Ezezew, President of the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sector Associations.

Breakout sessions on agro-processing, textile and apparel, ICT as well as Pharma sector took place in the afternoon following the opening remarks and panel discussion, where a number of EU companies shared their experiences of investing in these sectors in Ethiopia.

The frorum also featured a company visit. A delegation that included the EIC commissioner, EUBFE executive director, guests of the forum, representative from the EU commission as well as diplomats from the Ethiopian embassy in Brussels attended a half day visit to Desmet Engineers  & Contractors (DSEC)  based in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.

At the end of the forum, closing remark was delivered by Mr. Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President of the European Commission and responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, in which he pointed out to policy conviction of the commission in promoting investmentin third countries via various instruments including the external investment plan.

The last day of the EU-Ethiopia Business Forum was dedicated to a morning-long networking and B2B session, where EUBFE was able to confer with a number of EU companies who showed interest to invest in Ethiopia.

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EU Business Forum Provided Input on Consultation of the Draft Investment Law

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On Saturday, July 6, 2019, following an invitation from the Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC), a consultative workshop was held on the draf of the Ethiopian Investment law. Some 200 companies, embassies and other development partners were invited to this meeting.
Representatives of the task force of 17 professionals set up to oversee the drafting of the law presented their findings followed by a question and answer session chaired by HE Abebe Abebayehu, commissioner of the EIC.
The presentation started with an outline of the method the task force applied in its review of the investment code.
Following this the working group presented some seven key policy implications for "Investment Policy White Paper". These are rethinking of long held assumptions on investments; revising goals for investment promotion in line with changing context; holistic approach to investment (both attraction and retention thereof); consider both foreign direct investment and domestic investment as one policy area; comparing a sector-specific approach to the general promotion of (foreign) investments; incentive schemes for investments and investment administration. This white paper has been prepared based on an analysis of current laws, a comparison with relevant other markets and based on various consultations. The white paper serves as the basis for the committee's final advice.
The subsequent presentation included the history of investment legislation and the international comparison about openness vs closedness of the market. Ethiopia currently has investment legislation in which some sectors are open to foreign investors, which often causes confusion regarding definition and definition. The committee's recommendation was that Ethiopia would benefit restrictive listing approach, where negative list would be outlined. Any sector that is not enumerated in the negative list is considered open for FDI, clarifying any potential confusion. In this connection, the committee recommended three components to sector specific listing; .
1. areas of investment for Joint Ventures with the government (such as weapons manufacturing, the entire electricity sector, postal services);
2. areas of investment reserved for domestic investors (such as banking and insurance, retail, import trade (excl. LPG and bitumen), wholesale, export trade (of raw coffee, chat oil seeds), bakeries.....,) and
3. areas of investment reserved for joint venture with domestic investors with equity cap (such as forwarding and shipping agency services, advertising, market research, audio-visual services, domestic transport services, accounting, mass media service, land public transport, making indigenous medicine..).
All sectors not mentioned in the list, which would become public shorty according to the presenters, will be fully open to foreign investors.
The third presentation dealt with the proposals on the legal and organizational duties of the Ethiopian Investment Commission. Several recommendations were made, some of which are; coordination between the Ethiopian Aviation Authority, the Ethiopian Energy Authority and the EIC in developing sector specific studies with a view to attracting foreign investors; setting clear and minimal grounds for revoking or suspending the investment licenses; expand one-stop-shop (OSS) service provided by the EIC to include post-investment full scope service as well as the creation of comprehensive grievance management system.
Moreover, a nine member Ethiopian Investment Board is also recommended to be established under the leadership of the PM and representatives of all relevant Ministries and one none-voting seat reserved for the private sector.
A question and answer session chaired by the Commissioner of the EIC followed, in which several questions and comments were raised by participants. The commissioner acknowledged the suggestions as important input into the draft law. The draft law will be publicly available once such comments have been incorporated, he also added.
Board members of EUBFE in collaboration with AmCham counterparts lodged a brief reflection on the consultative session to the management of the EIC. The brief recommendation is believed to be enriched once the draft investment law becomes public.Ethiopian-Investment-Commission- -law-reform-570x358

EUBFE Signed MoU with the Ministry of Revenue on the Occasion of its General Assembly

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The Ministry of Revenue, represented by State Minister Mr. Mohammed Abdi, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with EU Business Forum and its member national business associations on May 2, 2019. The MoU is aimed at forging constructive dialogue between the Ministry of Revenue (MoR), as well as the Customs Commission (which is under the MoR), and members of EUBFE.  In his key note address, H.E. Mr. Mohammed welcomed the initiative to construct meaningful dialogue with EU businesses and encouraged those involved to work towards its fruition.

In this connection, a joint steering committee has been established that would compile, review and address challenges of members of EUBFE in connection with tax and customs. The committee will be led by the Head of the Office of the Minister of Revenue and will be composed of directors of various directorates of MoR and board members of EUBFE. The steering committee will commence its task within two weeks’ time of the signing of MoU.

The General Assembly meeting that preceded the signing of MoU approved annual report for 2018, audit report of external auditor, plan for 2019 and extended the appointment of the existing board members by a further two years. The event was attended by various guests from government as well as EU diplomatic community.

The EU-Ethiopia Business Forum to take place from 13-15 May in Brussels

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The EU-Ethiopia Business Forum 2019 will take place in Brussels on Tuesday, May 14th and Wednesday, May 15th2019.  The objective of this Forum is to promote and stimulate European private sector trade and investment in Ethiopia through the organization of a Business Forum aimed at advertising the potential opportunities in the country and at offering a networking platform for European and Ethiopian companies as well as Ethiopian government representatives.

During this high-level business Forum participants will gain practical information about doing business in Ethiopia and be able to interact with top-officials from the Ethiopian Investment Commission and with other high-ranking officials from Ethiopia. Mr. Jyrki Katainen, vice-president of the European Commission and Commissioner for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, will also take part in the event.

Please follow the link below to participate.

https://en.xing-events.com/eu_ethiopia_businessforum.html?page=1699742

EU-Ethiopia

 

Members of EUBFE held breakfast meeting with delegates from Bavaria State

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Led by Mr. Markus Soder, Minister-President of the German Free State of Bavaria, a high-level delegation visited Ethiopia, accompanied by representatives from sixty companies. As part of the visit, which also saw leaders of the delegation received by President Sahle-Work Zewde, a breakfast meeting was held with EUBFE member companies on April 17, 2019. In the opening  of  the meeting, representatives of EUBFE as well as the trade mission, highlighted the importance of engaging with EU businesses that are already in operation in the Ethiopian business environment to form comprehensive understanding. The executive director of EUBFE, Mr. Nahom Abraham, encouraged delegates of the Bavaria state to join the EUBFE to continue to access uptodate information on business in Ethiopia. Following a round of introduction, the breakfast meeting proceeded with informal networking. The meeting was co-organized in colse collaboration with the delegation of German Industry and Commerce for Eastern Africa (AHK-Kenya), which is also a member of the EUBFE. 

Panel Discussion on the mid-term Economic Future of Ethiopia Held

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Panel Discussion on middle-to-short-term economic was held on December 6, 2018. The panel discussion was co-organized in collaboration with the EU Delegation in Ethiopia. H.E. Johan Borgstam, head of EU Delegation in Ethiopia made an opening remark at the opening of the event. It featured three prominent speakers; Mr. Tamrat G. Giorgis (managing editor of Fortune Business Newspaper, one of the largest in circulation), Mr. Helaway Tadesse (formerly with IMF and currently manager of Cepheus Capital managing a capital close to 100 mln USD) and Mr. Henock Assefa (Manager of Precise Consult-one of the largest consulting firms in Ethiopia).

The panel deliberated on a theme entitled “charting uncertain economic future of Ethiopia; challenges and prospects”. The reflection of the panelists was rooted in the government’s new plan of action called “new horizon of hope”. Panelists shared their reflections on the latest economic reforms of the government on the private sector, renewed dialogue and collaboration with international financial institutions such as the World Bank and IMF, as well as other relevant concerns as raised by participants during Q&A. The major takeaway from the discussion was that political instability, poor/inefficient bureaucratic system as well as persistent economic structural failure remain a challenge despite the move for more privatization and allowing for partial opening of some sector for FDI (eg. logistics) resulting in temporary relief of chronic forex shortage, owing to financial injections from global financial institutions, particularly the World Bank.

 

EUBFE and EU Delegation Co-Hosted Networking Event to Welcome Delegates of EAA

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EUBFE and EUD welcomed delegates of the Eastern Africa Association (EAA) at a networking event held on October 25, 2018 at the premises of EUBFE member company MOSS-ICT, the pioneer of mobile money service technology, M-Birr, in Ethiopia . The event was attended by more than 40 guests from government, diplomatic and businesses communities. HE Ambassador Johan Borgstam, head of EU Delegation in Ethiopia, opened the thematic event. After welcoming delegates of EAA, invited diplomats and members of EUBFE, he invited EUBFE Chairman Mr. Ben Depraetere to make an opening statement. Mr. Ben, in his address, highlighted the major activities and achievements of EUBFE and invited delegates to engage with members and management of EUBFE to learn more. Mr. John Small, CEO of EAA took up the stage subsequently. In his brief address he thanked the EU Delegation as well as the EUBFE for hosting EAA’s delegates. He reiterated that over the course of their stay, they have learnt a great deal on investment opportunities in Ethiopia. Events such as this networking event hosted by EUBFE and EUD, will further help in cementing the delegates understanding of the Ethiopian business climate from EU businesses already operating in Ethiopia. Following the opening remarks the thematic networking continued over cocktail reception.

 

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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