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 .

 

 

 

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