Manufacture in Ethiopia, Omani investors urged

Addis Ababa: Omani investors have been encouraged to set up manufacturing units in Ethiopia, the most populous landlocked country in the world which provides a great gateway to other markets in Africa and beyond.

“There is a huge domestic market here in Ethiopia, so it would be good for Omani investors to have manufacturing units here,” Ato Dawano Kedir, state minister of the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Ethiopia, told the Times of Oman on Wednesday.




He was speaking on the sidelines of the Oman-Ethiopia Trade Meet in Addis Ababa, which was attended by senior officials from both countries as well as representatives of 20 Omani companies and some Ethiopian firms.

Led by Salem bin Nasser Al Ismaily, the chairman of the Public Authority for Investment Promotion and Export Development (Ithraa), the Omani delegation is exploring new avenues for business cooperation with Ethiopia, which has borders with Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan as well as Kenya.

The meeting was attended by Solomon Afework, president of the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations; Ayman Abdullah Mohd. Al Hasani, vice-chairman for economic and branches affairs at the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI); Fahmi Al Hinai, honorary consul of Ethiopia in Oman; Nasima Al Balushi, director general of export development at Ithraa; and a number of other officials.

Major incentives

The Ethiopian state minister said that almost 60 per cent of Ethiopia’s 90 million population is young; and cheap labour, cheap and sufficient electricity, excellent airlines and a wide range of incentives have made the country a preferred destination for foreign investment.

Whatever machinery Omani investors want to bring to Ethiopia will be tax-free and also, depending on the nature of the products that will be produced, there will be a tax holiday of two to nine years to help them become profitable, Kedir noted.

According to him, there is vast potential and abundant investment opportunities in agriculture, agro-processing, mining, tourism, manufacturing, energy and infrastructure development in Ethiopia.

Bilateral trade

Solomon Afework, president of the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations, said at the meeting that the bilateral trade between the two countries reached $24.5 million in 2013 from only $2.6 million in 2004.

“Ethiopia’s total export to Oman between 2004 and 2013 was $7,253,635 while the total import from Oman in the same period was $113,954,418,” he said.

According to Ithraa, Oman’s imports from Ethiopia in 2014 stood at $2 million, while Oman exported goods worth of $37.2 million to the African country.

Addis Ababa: Omani investors have been encouraged to set up manufacturing units in Ethiopia, the most populous landlocked country in the world which provides a great gateway to other markets in Africa and beyond. 

“There is a huge domestic market here in Ethiopia, so it would be good for Omani investors to have manufacturing units here,” Ato Dawano Kedir, state minister of the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Ethiopia, told the Times of Oman on Wednesday. 

He was speaking on the sidelines of the Oman-Ethiopia Trade Meet in Addis Ababa, which was attended by senior officials from both countries as well as representatives of 20 Omani companies and some Ethiopian firms. 

Led by Salem bin Nasser Al Ismaily, the chairman of the Public Authority for Investment Promotion and Export Development (Ithraa), the Omani delegation is exploring new avenues for business cooperation with Ethiopia, which has borders with Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan as well as Kenya. 

The meeting was attended by Solomon Afework, president of the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations; Ayman Abdullah Mohd. Al Hasani, vice-chairman for economic and branches affairs at the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI); Fahmi Al Hinai, honorary consul of Ethiopia in Oman; Nasima Al Balushi, director general of export development at Ithraa; and a number of other officials. 

Major incentives 
The Ethiopian state minister said that almost 60 per cent of Ethiopia’s 90 million population is young; and cheap labour, cheap and sufficient electricity, excellent airlines and a wide range of incentives have made the country a preferred destination for foreign investment. 

Whatever machinery Omani investors want to bring to Ethiopia will be tax-free and also, depending on the nature of the products that will be produced, there will be a tax holiday of two to nine years to help them become profitable, Kedir noted. 

According to him, there is vast potential and abundant investment opportunities in agriculture, agro-processing, mining, tourism, manufacturing, energy and infrastructure development in Ethiopia. 

Bilateral trade 
Solomon Afework, president of the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations, said at the meeting that the bilateral trade between the two countries reached $24.5 million in 2013 from only $2.6 million in 2004. 

“Ethiopia’s total export to Oman between 2004 and 2013 was $7,253,635 while the total import from Oman in the same period was $113,954,418,” he said. 

According to Ithraa, Oman’s imports from Ethiopia in 2014 stood at $2 million, while Oman exported goods worth of $37.2 million to the African country. 

The top imported products from Oman were semi-products of iron or non-alloy steel, uncooked pasta, wheat or meslin flour, polypropylene in primary form, fittings for tubes, pipes and hoses and sugar confectionary.
Meanwhile, fresh, chilled or frozen goat meat, roses and other flowers, fresh strawberries, frozen edible offal of sheep, goats and horses and vegetables topped the list of imported products from Ethiopia. 

Afework also noted that Omani investors have received a licence for three projects between 1992 and 2014 with a capital of 64.7 million birr (Ethiopian currency) and it is expected that there will be 138 permanent and 55 temporary jobs. 

“Omani investors have also invested in partnership with Ethiopian, Sudanese, and Romanian investors with a capital of 17 million birr,” Afework said. 

The proximity of the two countries has provided a great platform for the expansion of ties, he said, adding that Oman, one of the emerging economies in the Middle East, and Ethiopia, which is seeking to emerge as one of the leading commercial centres in East Africa, have a lot to offer to each other. 

Afework said that Ethiopia is a member of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), so there is strong and transparent investment protection and guarantee laws in Ethiopia. 

In his speech, Ithraa’s chairman referred to the fact that first Muslim immigrants crossed the red sea to Ethiopia to seek refuge from religious prosecution in their homeland and noted that the current value of trade between the two countries does not reflect the spirit of deep-rooted and cordial relations between the two countries. 

Al Ismaily said that Oman is ‘serious’ when it comes to enhancing its trade cooperation with Ethiopia, an emerging market which has registered an annual growth of not less than 10 per cent. 

Omani exhibition 
He also announced that Oman plans to hold a large exhibition in Ethiopia with the participation of around 150 Omani companies next year. 

In addition, the official spoke about great investment opportunities in the Sultanate, noting that Oman is one of the 13 countries in the world registering an annual growth of 10 per cent for 25 consecutive years. 

Diving factors 
Oman has progressed a lot in all areas, he said, adding that investment in people, establishment of institutions to ensure the rule of law, appropriate fiscal and financial policies, ease of doing business and a belief in cooperation with other countries are some of the driving factors behind Oman’s development. 

Unique location 
In a speech at the meeting, the state minister said that Ethiopia’s location at the crossroads between Africa, the Middle East and Asia and its membership of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) are all factors that offer unparallel regional market potential and provide a comfortable platform to access the region’s fast developing markets. 

Kedir noted that the Oman-Ethiopia relationship has strengthened since formal bilateral diplomatic relations were established in 1995. Also, Ethiopia has opened an honorary consulate in Oman to strengthen ties with Oman in all spheres.  

A delegation of Ethiopian embassy in Yemen visited Oman in March 2014 and a business delegation from Oman also paid a business visit to Ethiopia in December 2014, he said, expressing hope that efforts to enhance trade between the two friendly countries will continue.

To contact this reporter: elham@timesofoman.com