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