Joint Workshop between EUBFE and Ethiopian Customs Commission Delivered

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A joint workshop organized in collaboration with the Ethiopian Customs Commission was held on April 15, 2021 The basis of this workshop is the list of specific issues that were submitted by the EU Business Forum to the commission, following a mini survey disseminated amongst members. Some 40 logistics managers and staff members from EUBFE member companies took part. From the Customs Commission’s side, a number of directors including Mrs. Abeba Kiros- Director, Strategic Partnership Directorate, Ato Endashaw Temesgen -Director, Import goods procedure and support directorate as well as Mrs. Gennet Abreham - Director, Manufacturer and Export Trade Procedure and Support took the podium to lead the Q&A session.

The objectives of the workshop were
• to present the key systems that are instituted that would enable swift release of goods, within the 10/15 days deadline
• to discuss on the issues and challenges submitted by member companies, including but not limited to o repetitive inspections, rejection of transaction values, LC extension related challenges, duty free imports privilege rejection, lack of clarity on investment on logistics sector, missing HS codes on single window and consolidation of goods

Based on the queries raised by participants, the panelists as well as the other invited guests from ECC provided detailed explanation upon the return of participants from health break. The explanations were made by the panelists as well as Ato Habtamu Tilahun from Legal Directorate, Mr. Behailu Bedasso (lead valuation expert) from Valuation Directorate, Ato Sebsbie Fekade from ESW (team coordinator), Mr. Zewdu Tsehay from transit and warehouse directorate (lead expert) and Ato G/Egziabher G/Tsadik (deputy manager) from Kality Customs branch.

A summary of the responses is as below.

  • Price valuation is tolerated if it falls between 5-10% of ECVS. Regardless, the ECVS is being updated to reflect current prices and add new commodities; it is now at a pilot stage
  • Companies need to supply complete documents to enable ECC assessors make informed decision. In this regard, for ECC to be convinced of transaction value, sales contract needs to be submitted on top of LC and commercial invoices.
  • Price valuation remains a contentious area.
  • The first 4-6 digits of HS code are usually the same globally and the remaining will differ according to country context. Transiters should have the ability to navigate this.
  • The Ethiopian Single Window system (ESW) is currently serving the business community. Some 16 companies, mainly banks and insurance companies operate within this framework. Training is being provided to the business community on ESW on a continuous bases and based on needs experts will be happy to extend one to EUBFE members.
  • In situations where system failure happens in partner organizations, like Ministry of Agriculture, the ESW secretariat will be happy to intervene to support business in clearing their commodities on time.
  • The 10/15 days deadline kicks in on the day T-1 is validated. This means the day the shipment arrives in its designated warehouse, be it in Modjo, airport or even ECC certified duty-free warehouses.
  • Pre arrival clearance is indeed actively applied although some transiters do not seem to use this opportunity. However, it is one area that is targeted for improvement since it lacks harmonization across branches and does not meet international standard.
  • ECC is committed to developing the capacity of its staff. It also takes note that some of the challenges are rooted in absence of the right skills. ECC is open to partner with stakeholders including the private sector to this end.
  • The issue of expanding the privileges being an AEO to other government agencies has been tabled for consideration at the prime minister’s office. In this manner, law abiding companies will have significant benefits.

Joint Workshop between EUBFE and Ministry of Revenues Held

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A joint workshop organized in collaboration with the Ministry of Revenues was held on January 29, 2021 at the BestWesten Plus Hotel in Addis Ababa. The workshop focused on Auditing, tax compliance and related issues. It attracted more than 40 finance managers, drawn from member European companies. 

This workshop falls within the memorandum of understanding signed between EUBFE and the ministry to bolster relationship between member companies and the ministry. A small survey was conducted at the end of 2020, that brought some problematic areas in the tax administration that gave rise to the design and the delivery of this workshop.

Hence, the major objectives of the workshop were

  • enable participants grasp the basics of risk-based audit
  • to equip participants on basic assumptions taken into consideration on frequency of audit
  • exchange experiences on audit work between European companies and auditors of MoR and identify areas that require better collaboration

The Ministry of Revenues was represented by five directors;

  1. Ato Kebede Lidetu- Director, Risk and Compliance
  2. Ato Birhanu Kebede-Director, Tax Audit Management
  3. Ato Sisay Gezu-Director Tax Fraud Investigation
  4. Wro. Abaynesh Abate- Directress, Tax Debt Management
  5. Ato Dereje Meonnen- Director Filing and Return Processing

All the directors made a brief presentation on the major tasks of their respective directorates and the challenges encountered in expediting their responsibilities. 

The discussion that ensued addressed concerns raised by participants in the areas of VAT fund delay, frequency of audit, withholding tax, capacity of auditors and related tax administration concerns.

Follow this link to download the full content of the workshop: https://eubfe.eu/images/Minutes-_Workshop_on_Audit_and_Tax_Compliance_29.01.21.pdf 

EUBFE Addressed Participants during Investment Engagement Summit Organized by EIC

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20201211 161046The EU Business Forum took part in an investor engagement summit organized by the Ethiopian Investment Commission on December 11, 2020. The summit aimed at presenting the major legal reforms undertaken during the year to improve the business climate while also conferring with investors on current challenges. The summit was opened by key note addresses from HE Lelise Neme Commissioner of Investment Commission and Mr. Erik Habers, Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation in Ethiopia. The board chairman of EUBFE, Mr. Ben Depraetere, then addressed the audience on key accomplishments and engagement of EUBFE as well as areas of collaboration that need further strengthening.
The EIC presented key reforms in the investment climate, including the new investment law and regulation. This law created negative listing of investment areas, that clearly delineate areas of investment reserved for local and joint investment, allowing FDI to participate otherwise. Moreover, the law establishes an investment board, that for the first time allows the private sector two seats.
You may click on the following link below to find out detailed changes enacted via the new investment law.
Following presentation on major legal and economic reforms as well as on investor aftercare service a panel discussion ensued. Existing challenges European Companies face, including access to forex, tax and customs were discussed. The EIC pledged to continue to support European investors and to such effect has assigned a contact person that would look after European FDI. Moreover, it was indicated that more sustained investor-enagement will be pursued in the years to come. 

EUBFE Held Consultative E-Meeting with the new EIC Commissioner

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The new commissioner of the Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC) held consultative meeting with the board of the EUBFE and the EU Delegation
Hosted by HE Ambassador Johan Borgstam, head of the EU delegation to Ethiopia, the meeting was the first since HE Ms. Lelise Neme took helms at the commission
Following round of introductions and congratulatory messages on the appointment of HE Lelise from HE Ambassador Borgstam and Mr. Depraetere-Chair of EUBFE, representatives of the EU delegation and the EUBFE made power point presentations on the previous and current engagements of their respective institutions with the EIC.

On the discussion that ensued, EUBFE members indicated that despite the robust relationship established with the EIC and the tangible results registered, in particular via the public-private-dialogue (PPD) platform, a number of concerns of European FDI community remain unresolved. In addition to a more recent concern that is investment security, work permit renewal, logistical bottlenecks, foreign exchange shortage and uneven application of regulations and laws were pointed out. In response, HE Lelise pointed out that multi-regional forum, led by regional presidents and investment commissioners, has been established to oversee any concerns that might arise by investors and EIC will be happy to invite EUBFE to attend an upcoming meeting. Moreover, Commissioner Lelise promised to dedicate personnel and time to look into the challenges raised by EUBFE. In conclusion, EUBFE invited HE to an introductory meeting with members of EUBFE.

EUBFE held its first thematic networking event of 2020 on the sidelines of its general assembly

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EUBFE’s general assembly held on February 27, 2020 saw approval of external audit report of FY 2019 as well as review and approval of annual plan for 2020. Major strategic focus for the year 2020 include expansion of membership base, enhance engagement and advocacy work as well as add new services and ventures. The EU Delegation in Ethiopia has pledged some 300 thousand euros worth of technical assistance towards improving EUBFE and this was officially announced at the general assembly. This is believed to be an important contribution towards realizing the key strategic goals set by the board of management of EUBFE.

Following the general assembly, a thematic networking event that focused on the implementation of the new customs legislation took place. It was hosted in partnership with EUBFE’s member association, the Ethiopian Netherlands Business Association (ENLBA). A panel composed of distinguished guests that include Mr. Gaim Yibrah (Director of the Strategic Partnership Directorate- Customs Commission), Mrs. Elisabeth Getahun (President of freight Forwarders and Shipping Association) Mr. Getachew Zewdu (Representative of Clearing Agents), Mr. Hayo Hamster (President of ENLBA) as well as Mr. Ben Depraetere (Chair of EUBFE) led the discussion on the application of the new customs legislation 1160/19 and the challenges associated with it. Particular concern was the reduction of maximum allowable deadline of goods in customs warehouses to 15 days in dry ports and 10 at airport and the fine of 20% of customs value sanction who fail to remove their imports within these day limits. Mr. Gaim responded to questions and concerns on behalf of Customs Commission and took away some suggestions for further scrutiny.

 

EUBFE joined members of the diplomatic community in welcoming the new president of EU Commission on her maiden trip outside Europe

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On her first trip outside Europe as head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen visited Addis Ababa, on Saturday December 7 2019. On a speech she made during a reception organized by the EU Delegation to Ethiopia and the AU, Ms. Von Der Leyen underlined the important strategic alliance with Africa her leadership will pursue. She also congratulated the Ethiopian leadership for the reform they are engaged in and in particular the Prime Minister for winning this year's nobel peace prize EUBFE was represented by its co-chair Mr Timklienebenne (pictured with Von der Leyen) and its executive director Mr. Nahom F. Abraham at the evening reception.

The Fourth Thematic Networking Event of EUBFE took place

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EUBFE - LogoThe end of the year and the fourth  thematic networking event of EUBF took place on December 10, 2019 at the Golden Tulip Hotel. The theme of the evening was EUBFE-2020. On behalf of the board members of EUBFE, the executive director Mr. Nahom F. Abraham presented the key strategic directions EUBFE would follow in the year 2020 along three focus areas; expanding membership base, expanding services to members and strengthening engagement with the public sector. Following the presentation, board members conferred one-on-one with members to garner more information and perspectives on strengthening EUBFE's services further. The information gathered at the event will be used to enrich the plans of activities of EUBFE for the year 2020.

EUBFE signed MoU with Ministry of Trade and Industry

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A memorandum of understanding was signed between EUBFE, AmCham Ethiopia and the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoTI) on the occasion of thematic networking event held on October 24th 2019. The MoU was signed by Ato Tekay Gebre Yesus, State Minister of MoTI, Mr. Ben Depraetere-Chairman of EUBFE and Mrs. Serena Capelleti-President of AmCham Ethiopia.

The signing of the MoU marks the onset of a constructive and sustained dialogue between MoTI and member companies of the respective associations. In the opening remarks of both Ato Teka and Ben, it was highlighted that it is indeed high time the private sector and the public one to work closely together and feed off each other experiences and expertise. Following the signing ceremony, a presentation on the major mandates, various services and directorates of the MoTI was made by guests from the ministry. Question and answer session followed the presentation, where participants raised queries and concerns.

Joint Workshop Organized together with Ministry of Revenue Held

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EU Business Forum in Ethiopia (EUBFE) in collaboration with the Ministry of Revenue (MoR) organized a training workshop for finance staff of member companies on October 17-2019 at the premises of MoR. The goal of the workshop was to equip participants with knowledge and skills in identifying fraudulent receipts. It is common knowledge that fraudulent receipts are causing considerable damage in the economy with some EU companies falling victim to such fraud. The training workshop was led by Ato Sisay Gezu, the director of the Intelligence and Investigation Directorate at MoR. During the lively discussion that followed the presentation, participants shared their experiences in combating illegal practices of such kind in addition to providing recommendations that would assist MoR.

This workshop is the one of the outcomes of the regular steering committee meeting held quarterly between the EUBFE and the MoR, as stipulated in the MoU signed between the two organizations.

 

E-CMS Themed Networking Event of EUBFE Took Place

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Second thematic networking event of 2019 took place in the presence of HE Ambassador Johan Borgstam, head of EU Delegation on September 19th September at the headquarters of Total Ethiopia S.C.

Introduction to the electronic customs management system (E-CMS) was the theme of the event. The E-CMS is a new system that has been implemented for the Ethiopian Customs Commission for over a year, with funding from the European Union. Its goal is to improve and digitize the entire customs shipment mechanism and meet the dire need of fast and efficient movement of goods in Ethiopia.

HE Ambassador Johan Borgstam, in his opening remark, appreciated EUBFE for organizing such an event that would enable EU businesses to understand new developments that could improve their operations. Chairman of EUBFE also highlighted major achievements and challenges EUBFE face on the back of existing economic reforms. Subsequently, the country manager of the host of the evening Total-Ethiopia, Mr. Thibault Lesueur, extended his warm welcome to guests.

A presentation on the new customs management system was made by the representative of Webb Fontaine, the company that deployed the system. Details of the power point presentation are found on our downloads page.

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

 

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