Welcoming the Finnish Prime Minister's Delegation

Posted in Events

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.

Launch of the Business Climate Improvement facility

Posted in Events

Since the start of 2014 the EUBFE is the beneficiary of an EU support program entitled the BizClim Facility (see for more info: www.acpbusinessclimate.org). The objectives of BizClim are to promote improvements of the business climate in the African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) countries. In the case of EUBFE, the financing is coming in the form of two teams combining foreign and local experts who will support the EUBFE in carrying out analytical work and the organisation of several events.
The first team of experts is working currently on an EU investment Survey, under which you may have been contacted already. The project subsequently aims to develop an EU investors' profile, by performing a review of the EU investments in Ethiopia, collect issues and feedback on doing business in Ethiopia and assess the key regulatory issues that are impeding businesses locally. Results of the Survey and the Assessments will be discussed in Round Tables and presented at the EUBFE Conference on the 10 June.
The EUBFE's Second Year Anniversary Conference and EXHIBITION will be organised on 2 october 2014.
PLEASE NOTE THE DATE IN YOUR DIARY! (see more details on the schedule of events on the last page
of this Newsletter)
HAVE YOUR VOICE HEARD, JOIN THE EUBFE: a membership application form is attached to this Newsletter. 

Ambassador Hebberecht - New head of the EU Delegation

Posted in Events

The EUBFE would like to welcome H.E. Ambassador Chantal Hebberecht, the new Head of Delegation to Ethiopia and look forward continuing the fruitful cooperation with the EU. 
H.E. Chantal Hebberecht has a background in agricultural engineering from the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium, and started her career in this University as an International Expert in the field of development cooperation, agriculture and rural development, farmers associations, environmental protection and banking sector.
She held several positions within the European Commission for Food Aid and Food Security (1998 – 2005), before heading the African Union and African Peace Facility Unit (2005-2009). Prior to her arrival in Ethiopia, she was Head of Delegation of the European Union to the Kyrgyz Republic in Central Asia.
Please join us to wish her the best of luck and success in her new role as the Head of Delegation to Ethiopia!

EUBFE held its 1st Anniversary

Posted in Events

Cut 1stAnniv3As you all know, the EUBFE held its 1-Year Anniversary ceremony last week (29th May) at the Radisson Blu, Addis Ababa. The event welcomed more than 150 participants and included a presentation by high level government officials (H.E. State Minister, Ministry of Industry, Tadesse Hailewho highlighted the need to scale up EU investment to Ethiopia, Ato Kaidaki Acting Director General of ERCA who emphasised the fruitful dialogue that took place between the EUBFE and ERCA, as well as H.E. Ambassador Grum from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who paid a personal tribute to Xavier Marchal).

Indeed, this event was also the opportunity to honor the memory of H.E. Xavier Marchal, Head of EU Delegation to Ethiopia, who passed away just a few days before the Conference. As many of you know, Xavier followed the activities of the EUBFE over the last year with great personal interest and involvement, and undoubtedly was one of the main motors of the Forum. The event was thus also used as an opportunity to pay tribute to the personal efforts of Xavier Marchal to make the EUBFE a reality.

We also reviewed the activities performed by the EUBFE within the past year and expectations for the year to come, as well as offered a networking opportunity for the EU business community. At the meeting it was highlighted that over the last twelve months, the EUBFE has developed itself, despite relatively limited means, into a well-respected platform both among government circles and the business communities that is increasingly able to strongly advocate for the removal of the sharpest edges of the government's laws and regulations. The EUBFE is also seen as an increasingly important and valued facility to help existing and potential EU investors do business in Ethiopia.

Over the past 12 months around 15 meetings and presentations were organized, most of them in collaboration with the EU Delegation. Taxes and customs being key issues affecting the current business climate, ERCA was the center of the attention with 4 meetings on (amongst others) the new customs proclamation and on dividends tax. The EUBFE prepared a detailed comment paper on the new customs law. Some of the issues raised in the paper have found their way in the final version of the proclamation. In order to advocate its members’ rights, EUBFE also worked with the Ministry of Transport on addressing the concerns of the sudden implementation of the multimodal transport directive which mid last year seriously disrupted import and export from Djibouti Port. The EUBFE managed to advocate for a series of exceptions and ensured a focal point in the Ministry of Transport for members who encountered specific problems. The Prime Minister expressed its appreciation for the EU Business Forum and its ability to make around 300 EU companies speak with one voice during his meeting with President of the European Commission Barosso as well as on the occasion of the October 2012 meeting with foreign investors on the business climate. He has also been solicited by the EUBFE at the height of the foreign currency shortage beginning of this year. On the latter issue the EUBFE, together with the EU Delegation, held also talks with the Governor of the National Bank of Ethiopia, the President of the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia and the Minister of Industry. The EUBFE further provided its inputs to the Ministry of Industry in its endeavour to carve out an industrial road map for the country. The Ministry of Industry– together with the Ethiopian Investment Agency – also organised several consultation meetings on the new investment proclamation and the new investment regulations (in force since end 2012) for EUBFE members. Concurrently, the development of a website and a newsletter allowed a better visibility of the EU community issues and EUBFE’s actions. The association is also currently working on further financing (BizClim facility) to bring experts on board to substantiate its work and improve local business climate.

Further events and activities will be organized in the coming months, with a focus on continuing the structured dialogue with the Government of Ethiopia (including MoT, ERCA, EIA, MoI,…). Towards the second half July we have agreed with ERCA to organise a consultation in the EU Delegation – jointly with the major other foreign business fora – on the draft tax proclamation, while we are also currently working with the Ethiopian Investment Agency on a consultation on the investment proclamation that is (again) being redrafted. We will keep you informed on these and otherupcoming events. As we did in the past, we shall also react to relevantburning business climate issues as they come along and we encourage you in this regard to continue sharing with us what are the obstacles in the development of your business in Ethiopia.

You can find the Secretary's detailed presentation on the first year's activities of the EUBFE in the download part of our website (http://www.eubfe.eu/index.php/downloads). You'll find some of the excellent press coverage of the event (both on television and in the newspapers) also on the website.

Also to note that during the cocktail, some of our members had the opportunity to showcase their services and products to the visitors. We would like to thank them again for their support in the organization of the event and taking the time to set up the booths. We intend to repeat a similar exhibition next year and hope that even more of you will be able to demonstrate the richness and diversity of EU investment in Ethiopia.

The Secretary

Successful Launch Of The EUBFE

Posted in Events

Successful-Launch-Of-The-Eubfe---7th-May-2012After a one-year gestation period, the European Union Business Forum in Ethiopia (EUBFE) was formally launched on May 7th, 2012, in the presence of more than 100 European companies operating in Ethiopia, representatives of numerous diplomatic representations as well as high-level staff from the Ethiopian Revenue & Customs Authority (ERCA) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The EUBFE was set-up in response to the need for both a platform for networking and information exchange between EU businesses and a systematic dialogue with the Ethiopian authorities. The EUBFE operated under the umbrella of the EU Delegation to Ethiopia.

EUBFE Held Meeting with Ministry of Finance

Posted in Dialogue

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EUBFE delegation held meeting with the Minister of Finance- HE Ahmed Shide. Led by the head of cooperation at the EU Delegation Mr. Erik Habers, EUBFE representatives, composed of board chair, executive director and presidents of bilateral member associations presented a summary of the major achievements of EUBFE in its advocacy engagement with a number of ministires. Moreover, the EUBFE delegation outlined keen interest to establish a sustained and structured platform with the Ministry Finance, where the concerns and challenges of member companies can be addressed. Stressing EUBFE's mission of improving the doing business climate in the country, it is currenlty engaged in producing empirical studies that aid policy interventions to this end.
HE Mr. Ahmed Shide on his part appreciated the initiative of EUBFE and outlined key econnomic reforms that led to the opening of the country's economy to FDI. He pledged to assist in resolving any bottlenecks member companies face. The meeting concluded by establishing a team from both sides that would overlook the formalisation of relationship between MoF and EUBFE that would get regular consultation gain traction.  

Ethiopian Finance Minister, Ahmed Shide held talks today with EUBFE delegation led by the Cooperation Head for EU Delegation to Ethiopia, Erik Habers, on ways of strengthening financial and economic cooperation between the two sides.

During the meeting, the two sides are ready to work for a favorable investment climate in Ethiopia through the joint forum.

EUBFE representatives have also pledged to help Ethiopia to become an ideal investment destination and regular talks will be held with the Ministry of Finance to achieve this goal.

Finance Minister Ahmed Shide said on his part Ethiopia attaches great importance to its cooperation with the European Union and other European countries.

He further stated that Ethiopia is committed to working closely with the EUBFE and having a consultative meeting at least twice a year for the benefit of both parties. 

Speaking on the ongoing economic reform that Ethiopia has embarked on, Ahmed noted that the reforms are being intensified and the government is committed to increasing the participation of the private sector in the reform process.

He stated the recent involvement of private sectors as well as foreign companies with strong experience and potential in the telecom sector of the country as a showcase of the government’s commitment in this regard.

The Minister told the delegates that essential efforts will be made by the Ministry of Finance to ease all forms of bottlenecks that faced EUBFE member companies in their day-to-day activities in Ethiopia.

Public-Private Dialogue with Foreign Business Associations, including EUBFE, was Held

Posted in Dialogue

IMG-20191204-WA0011Public-Private-Dialogue (PPD), the second round, was held on December 4, 2019 at the Hilton Hotel. EUBFE, as co-chair of the PPD team, worked tirelessly to collect, analyze and depict the major challenges of foreign businesses in Ethiopia. This PPD deliberated on taxation and customs concerns of foreign businesses. PPD was facilitated by the Ethiopian Investment Commission represented by Deputy Commissioners Mrs. Hanna Arayaselassie and Mr. Temesgen Tilahun , along side Mr.Zemede Teferra-State Minister Ministry of Revenue.  Opening remark on the PPD was made by Mr. Ben Depraetere, board chair of EUBFE. In his remark he highlighted the preparation of PPD and appreciated the role EIC and MoR played in making it a reality. He concluded by a encouraging a more sustained dialogue  of such format. Issues on taxation and customs were presented by representatives of the PPD preparation team and responded to by staff from MoR.

Meeting Held with Ministry of Revenue on Issues Distilled from EUBFE Members

Posted in Dialogue

The first steering committee meeting of 2019 with Ministry of Revenue was held on August 21, 2019 at the premises of the Headquarters of the Ministry of Revenue (MoR). This collaboration is the result of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between MoR and EUBFE back in May where both parties reierated their commitment to work together to improve tax administration. A number of agenda points were addressed at the meeting chaired by Mr. Nebeyou Samuel, advisor to the mininister. Board members of EUBFE as well as relevant directorates from MoR also took part.
Technical concerns raised and addressed at the meeting include excise tax, fringe benefit calculation, dealing with fraudulent receipts, VAT refund, application of bilateral tax treaties and more. All agenda points tabled at the meeting by EUBFE were addressed point by point. 
Follow up meeting will be held to review any additional issues that may arise. Moreover, decisions passed on this meeting will also be looked into in the subsequent meetings, which are planned to take place quarterly.  

EUBFE Conferred with Investment Commissioner on bolstering dialogue with the government

Posted in Dialogue

EU Business Forum in Ethiopia together with the EU Delegation in Ethiopia held discussion on March 26, 2019 with the Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC) on improving the existing platform of dialogue with EU businesses in Ethiopia. EUBFE members were honored with the presence of HE Abebe Abebayehu, Commissioner of Ethiopian Investment Commission and HE Ambassador Johan Borgstam, Head of the EU Delegation to Ethiopia.

In the discussion that ensued, EU business leaders in attendance expressed their appreciation for the commitment shown by the EIC in facilitating dialogue with government agencies in previous instance through the Public-Private-Dialogue (PPD) platform. They further expressed their desire to continue in this vein and contribute in the reformulation of investment code as well as the second version of PPD. The guest of honor at the breakfast meeting, HE Abebe Abebayehu, highlighted previous successes close collaboration between businesses have brought and vowed to improve on disruptions on the regularity of such engagements. The delayed PPD-2, he also indicated, will go through at the earliest opportunity. HE Johan Borgstam, in his concluding remark indicated that it is important for businesses to closely work with regulators while also highlighting EU Delegation's contribution to improving the business environment in Ethiopia, including the automated customs system currently operational.

The meeting cocluded with a joint committment to continue to build on the on-going constructive dialogue.

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EUBFE took part in briefing on investment safety organized by EIC and Ministry of Peace

Posted in Advocacy

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EUBFE took part in security briefing in connection with the national elections along side its member bilateral associations-the CAFE and ENLBA, as well as other prominent FDI associations. The briefing was led by Mrs. Frealem Shibabaw, state minister of law enforcement at MoF, Commissioner of EIC Ms Lelise Neme and Deputy Commissioner of EIC Temesgen Tilahun.
MoP briefed investors on the general preparation on security pre and post election. Following this session, dedicated emergency contact numbers were disseminated via EUBFE to all members to report any incidents they deem unsafe.

E-visa goes online

Posted in Advocacy

As of July 2, 2018 all visa applications can be made online. This is among the biggest success of public-private-dialogue conducted between the EUBFE and relevant authorities back in November 2017, in which EUBFE strongly lobbied for a more flexible and automated visa system. You may access online visa via http://www.evisa.gov.et/

Comprehensive immigration directives for foreign investors

Posted in Advocacy

In March 2016, the EU Delegation to Ethiopia and the EUBFE sent a joint letter to H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, regarding concerns expressed by EUBFE members in obtaining appropriate immigration documents in order to be able to operate effectively in Ethiopia.

The EU business community is committed to support the effective implementation of the Ethiopian GTP II notably with regards to job creation, increased FDI, skills and technology transfers and improved linkages between foreign and domestic business communities. In order to do so, an immigration policy that is conducive to the effective operation of the foreign business community is necessary.

In this context, and in a spirit of dialogue and partnership, the EU business community would welcome more transparency on the matter at hand with a view to bolster EU investments in support of GTP II objectives.

Weight limit on containers imposed by the Maritime Affairs Authority - A happy End

Posted in Advocacy

In close cooperation with the ENLBA (The Ethiopia-Netherlands Business Association), the EU Delegation and the EUBFE, sent a letter to the Ethiopian Authorities to explain the difficulties encountered by the EU
business community due to suddenly imposed weight limit on containers as instructed by the Ethiopian Ministry of Transport – Maritime Affairs Authority and the negative impact of this new provision on the
The “temporary work rule”, passed on August 12 th, 2013, determined the weight of imported goods in a single container to a maximum of 20 tonnes for 20-foot container. This led to a sudden increase in cost of transportation and consequently an increase in cost of imported raw materials, between 5-30%. 
Following the letter issued by EU Delegation and the EU Business Forum, and subsequent informal consultations held with the Ministry of Transport, the Government of Ethiopia eventually decided to lift the weight limit.

Comments on the revised customs law

Posted in Advocacy

On October 28th, 2013, the Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority (ERCA) organised a meeting to gather  ERCA management and some key  foreign business communities, including EUBFE supported by the EU Delegation, to discuss the general customs operations and the draft Revised Customs Law. Following the meeting, EUBFE was invited to query its members and come back with structured and practical comments to the draft that would be used by ERCA to improve its drafting.
Thanks to your prompt feedback, we prepared and sent detailed and practical comments on the draft law. 
To sum up: we support the positive amendments brought by the new draft, such as self-assessment procedure and post transaction audit, electronic filing, administrative fines of some infractions (vs. automatic criminal penalties), early release of goods, training as well as the simplified customs procedures. 
However, from your experiences, constructive comments were made on the definitions within the law, the online publication of the regulations, the insertion of principle of non-retroactivity, the operations and handling of containers, spare parts imports, goods release, the Authorised Economic Operators (AEOs), the appeal and complaints handling, HS codes and tax rates, the valuation, or even the electronic filing.
We hope these will be taken into consideration by ERCA. We will follow up on this on the occasion of the next meeting with ERCA
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