Concerted Action Sought to Address Challenges in invest, Contrabands

ADDIS ABABA – High-level regional and federal government officials urged to step up efforts in a bid to address challenges in the investment sector as well as contraband trade in Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC) and Foreign Ministry on Monday conducted the consultative forum attended by Ministers, high-ranking federal government officials, presidents of regional states, and others.

The forum is a part of regular discussions that the government’s technical committee holds to resolve challenges investors face.

Chaired by EIC, the committee set up to identify and resolve specific investors’ challenges reviewed and resolved more than 170 cases in the past two years.

“The Government remains determined to support investors to invest and grow in Ethiopia,” the investment commission stated.

‘More efforts needed to fix bottlenecks’

Monday’s consultative forum heard presentations on the challenges in investment and the predatory nature of trade in smuggled goods.

Investment is pivotal to Ethiopia’s development and requires the concerted efforts of all stakeholders to address bottlenecks in the sector, Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen said in his keynote address.

Nearly 1.9 billion US Dollars worth of foreign direct investments (FDIs) flew into the country in the first half of the current Ethiopian fiscal year, up by 16% from similar months last year.

However, the six-month export trade performance fell short of the target set for the period.

Ethiopia secured a little more than 1.8 billion US Dollars in six-month export trade, achieving 77% of the target set by authorities.

Illegal trade and contrabands were among the major bottlenecks in the nation’s trading system and have been blamed for the drop in export revenues.

The fact that illicit trade continues to deprive our country of enormous economic gains, Deputy Prime Minister Demeke told the forum.

Key stakeholders both at the federal and regional administration levels need to work hand in hand to combat this scourge, the minister urged.

‘Regions should closely with feds’

The high-level discussion among government offices was held weeks after federal authorities launched a year-long mass sensitization push named a ‘tax and customs laws compliance national compliance campaign.’

The campaign, prepared by the Ministry of Revenues (MoR) and the Ethiopian Customs Commission, is expected to complement their ongoing push to clampdown contraband trade and tax evasion acts.

The efforts helped the government from losing more than 40.75 billion birr worth of revenues from tax evaders and smugglers in the first half of the 2022/23 fiscal year, as per the MoR.

More than 700 contraband smugglers have also been arrested in the same period.

The efforts, despite resulting in encouraging results, are yet to bring the desired level of effect in addressing the contraband and illicit trade due to underwhelming collaboration among key stakeholders.

Officials of regional states should work closely with the federal government to ameliorate the condition, Economic Adviser to the Prime Minister Office, Ambassador Girma Birru, said at the forum.

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