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Girma Keen to See More of Turkish Investment in Ethiopia



Ethiopia promises wonderful opportunities for Turkish businessmen who want to invest in the country or reach out to third countries, Girma Birru, minister of Trade and Industry, has said.

Girma was heading a delegation of more than 200 businessmen, bureaucrats and performers joining the 78th izmir International Fair (iEF).

Ethiopia was the honorary guest of the fair this year. Apart from cultural shows introducing Ethiopian culture to an international audience, Ethiopian fashion designers, coffee exporters, oil seed and spice exporters, footwear, textile and tannery exporters are looking for Turkish counterparts to engage in business deals. Though Turkish-Ethiopian mutual exports are below 300 million dollars, this grew out of almost nothing at a rate of 50.3pc increase every year over the last 10 years, Girma said.

Girma told Turkish daily, Today's Zaman, that Ethiopia's participation in the fair was already a success in terms of making an image and attracting the interest of Turkish businessmen.

"Both the Ethiopian dancers and the coffee ceremony caught the eyes of people," he said. "We managed to show the Turkish people that Ethiopia is a unique country to see."

People do not know Ethiopia as a country that bears opportunities for trade and investment, according to Girma.

"But, our incentives for investment are immense," he told Today's Zaman. "If a Turkish investor comes to Ethiopia with only a 30pc contribution from his side for a project, we can offer him a long-term low-interest loan for the other 70pc. They pay only four euro cents for a kilowatt-hour (kWh) of energy and only 20 euros for a year's rent on a hectare of land. This is like the price of a cup of tea".

Optimistic about the future of Turkish-Ethiopian economic relations, Girma mentioned Turkey's offer of a free trade agreement and a bilateral trade commission meeting every other year as mechanisms to promote commercial relations. Girma also praised the role of civil society groups in promoting mutual trade, particularly the Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON), and the Turkish schools opened in Addis Abeba.

"TUSKON leaders have come to my country more than three times, and thanks to that we have been seeing Turkish investors in Ethiopia," Girma said. "Turkish investors are already number one in the textile industry in Ethiopia."

Girma also praised the cooperation between TUSKON and the Turkish schools, pointing out that the director of the four Turkish schools in Addis Abeba accompanied him during the last TUSKON trade bridge.

"These schools are the real bridge," he said.

Refuting claims that his country's economy is based on coffee production alone, Girma said that the share of coffee in Ethiopia's exports is now below 30pc. Only five years ago Ethiopian exports were highly dependent on coffee production, with a share of 70pc. Girma stated that the Ethiopian economy is still largely an agricultural economy, adding, however, that industrialization comes in stages. "Twenty-five years ago, Turkish agriculture was dominating your economy," he said with the confidence of an eyewitness.

Girma came to Turkey for the first time 22 years ago, to attend another ?zmir International Fair, and since then, he has visited the country almost every year.

"I have witnessed the development of this country with my own eyes," he said. "This is almost my second home."

The Ethiopian minister of trade and industry noted that his country has been growing for the last seven consecutive years at a pace of 11.2pc annually and said Turkish businessmen should seize the opportunities created by this economic expansion.

"There is demand for construction . . . of roads, buildings, hotels and even hydropower generators. Turkish businessmen can also benefit from the production of construction materials," he said.

Girma also noted that his country is applying a "tax holiday" policy for priority sectors.

"If a businessman invests in the export sector or in other governmental sectors we exempt him from tax payments for five consecutive years. If they import their machinery into Ethiopia for the factory they built, they will have it 100pc duty-free," he told Today's Zaman.


Complied from a story published on Today's Zaman



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