Ethiopia - Country Commercial Guide
Trade Barriers

Includes the barriers (tariff and non-tariff) that U.S. companies face when exporting to this country.

Last published date: 2020-07-20

There are no special regulatory barriers to U.S. trade and investment in Ethiopia. The Government of Ethiopia has announced its intention to open a number of sectors to foreign investment through the privatization and partial privatization of state-owned enterprises that have maintained monopolies, 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.

Among the most frequently reported obstacles to doing business in Ethiopia are a 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, 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 (NBE) administers a strict foreign currency regulatory regime. While larger firms, state-owned enterprises, and 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.