Ethiopia - Country Commercial Guide
Trade Barriers
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There are no special regulatory barriers to U.S. trade and investment in Ethiopia.  The Government of Ethiopia has announced its intention to open several sectors to foreign investment through the privatization and partial privatization of state-owned enterprises that have maintained monopolies for decades, including the aerospace, logistics, and telecom sectors.  The Ethiopian Investment Board has approved reforms to liberalize the logistics sector, including expanding authorizations to operate bonded warehouse services and permitting foreign investors to hold up to a 75% interest in joint ventures with Ethiopian logistics firms.  Following this, as of March 2023, four logistics service providers are in the process of getting the license to share the logistics service market.  In the telecom sector, Safaricom was granted the license to operate as the first private telecom operator in Ethiopia in 2022.  The process to attract for the second private telecom license is currently underway.

Among the most frequently reported obstacles to doing business in Ethiopia are lack of transparency in the government procurement system, including canceled tenders, as well as poor infrastructure, bureaucratic procedures, lack of coordination, inefficiency in government agencies and systems, frequent change of high-level decision makers, confusing taxation regime, a foreign exchange shortage, and high transportation and transaction costs. 

Importers face difficulty in obtaining foreign exchange, particularly those that import goods for domestic sale. The National Bank of Ethiopia administers a strict foreign currency regulatory regime.  While larger firms, state-owned enterprises, and some manufacturing industries have not faced major problems in obtaining foreign exchange, the remaining firms face burdensome delays in arranging trade-related payments.  An importer must apply for an import permit and obtain a letter of credit for the total value of the imports before an order can be placed.