Cablegate: Ethiopia: Investment Climate Statement 2010

DE RUEHDS #0073/01 0151240
R 151240Z JAN 10




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: 09 STATE 124006

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1. (U) This cable is a reftel response that includes Ethiopia's
Investment Climate Statement 2010. As requested, the response is
divided into the following categories: Openness to Foreign
Investment; Conversion and Transfer Policies; Expropriation and
Compensation; Dispute Settlement; Performance Requirements and
Incentives; Right to Private Ownership and Establishment; Protection
of Property Rights; Transparency of Regulatory System; Efficient
Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment; Competition from State
Owned Enterprises; Corporate Social Responsibility; Political
Violence; Corruption; Bilateral Investment Agreements; OPIC and
Other Investment Insurance Programs; Labor; Foreign Trade Zones/Free
Trade Zones; Foreign Direct Investment Statistics

2. (U) Openness to Foreign Investment

--The Ethiopian Government states that the private sector is an
engine of growth and that private capital should play an important
role in the economy. The government has eliminated most of the
discriminatory tax, credit and foreign trade treatment of the
private sector, simplified administrative procedures, and
established a clear and consistent set of rules regulating business
activities. Despite the promotion of the private sector,
state-owned enterprises and ruling party-owned entities dominate the
major sectors of the economy.

--Though bureaucratic hurdles continue to affect implementation of
projects, the Ethiopian Investment Agency (EIA), the main contact
point for foreign investors, has improved its services and provides
an expedited "one-stop shop" service that significantly cuts the
time and cost of acquiring investment and business licenses. A
foreign investor intending to buy an existing private enterprise or
buy shares in an existing enterprise needs to obtain prior approval
from the EIA.

--A National Foreign Investment Promotion Advisory Council operates
with the goal of conducting foreign investment promotion on textiles
and garments, leather and leather products, fruits and vegetables,
and agro-processing areas. The Council's major tasks are to collect
and make available basic data regarding land allocation, utilities
connection, investment opportunities, market and other relevant

--In 2009, the Ethiopian Government shifted its agricultural policy
focus towards encouraging private investment (both domestic and
foreign) in larger-scale commercial farms. The Ministry of
Agriculture and Rural Development (MoARD) created a new Agricultural
Investment Support Directorate that is currently negotiating
long-term leases (all land is owned by the government) on over 7
million acres of land for these commercial farms. The new
Directorate's goal is to boost productivity, employment, technology
transfer, and foreign exchange reserves by offering incentives to
private investors.

--Rampant power outages forced factories and businesses to cease
operations for several days per week in 2009. Power supply improved
in late 2009, but demand still outpaces supply. The Ministry of
Mines and Energy (MoME) is actively seeking additional investment in
Ethiopia's energy sector to resolve its power crisis and even has
plans to export electricity to neighboring countries. MoME is
specifically interested in renewable energy sources and is
finalizing a draft feed-in tariff bill which will establish the
rates and conditions for independent power producers to sell
electricity to the national grid.

--In January 2009, the first American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham)
in Ethiopia was established to enhance the bilateral trading
relations between the two countries. AmCham currently has about 60
members. AmCham has been facing bureaucratic delays in renewing its
license with the Ministry of Justice due to the restrictive Civil
Society Organization (CSO) law that came into effect in 2009.

--In June 1996, the Ethiopian Government issued a revised Investment

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Code which provided incentives for development-related investments,
reduced capital entry requirements for joint ventures and technical
consultancy services, created incentives in the education and health
sectors, permitted the duty-free entry of capital goods (except
computers and vehicles), opened the real estate sector to expatriate
investors, extended the losses carried forward provision, cut the
capital gains tax from 40% to 10%, and gave priority to investors in
obtaining land for lease.

--Amendments to Ethiopia's Investment Proclamation were issued in
September 1998 and July 2002, further liberalizing the investment
regime and removing most of the remaining restrictions. The
remaining state-controlled sectors include telecommunications,
postal services with the exception of courier services, and
passenger air service using aircraft with more than 20 seats.
Manufacturing of weapons and ammunitions and telecommunications
services can only be undertaken as joint ventures with the

--Ethiopia's investment code prohibits foreign investment in
banking, insurance, and financial services. Other areas of
investment reserved for Ethiopian nationals include: broadcasting;
air transport services; travel agency services, forwarding and
shipping agencies; retail trade and brokerage; wholesale trade
(excluding supply of petroleum and its by-products as well as
wholesale by foreign investors of their locally-produced products);
most import trade; export trade of raw coffee, chat, oilseeds,
pulses, hides and skins bought from the market; live sheep, goats
and cattle not raised or fattened by the investor; construction
companies excluding those designated as grade 1; tanning of hides
and skins up to crust level; hotels (excluding star-designated
hotels); restaurants and bars excluding international and
specialized restaurants; trade auxiliary and ticket selling
services; transport services; bakery products and pastries for the
domestic market; grinding mills; hair salons; clothing workshops
(except by garment factories); building and vehicle maintenance; saw
milling and timber production; custom clearance services; museums,
theaters and cinema hall operations; and printing industries.

--Another important change made in the 2002 amendment was the
reduction in the minimum capital requirement of foreign investors
from $500,000 to $100,000 per project for wholly-owned foreign
investments and from $300,000 to $60,000 for joint investments with
domestic investors. The minimum capital required of foreign
investors in the areas of engineering, architectural, accounting and
auditing services; business and management consultancy services; and
publishing was reduced from $100,000 to $50,000 for wholly-owned
foreign investment; and to $25,000 for joint ventures undertaken
with domestic partners. A foreign investor reinvesting profits or
dividends or exporting at least 75% of the output will not be
required to meet minimum capital requirements or the 27% equity
requirement of local partners in joint ventures.

--The Ethiopian Government established a Trade Practices Commission
in April 2003 as an investigative commission accountable to the
Ministry of Trade and Industry. This Commission was designed to
promote a competitive business environment by regulating
anti-competitive, unethical, and unfair trade practices to enhance
economic efficiency and social welfare. Some of the Commission's
powers include: investigating complaints by aggravated parties;
compelling witnesses to appear and testify at hearings; and
searching the premises of accused parties.

--Nearly all tenders issued by the Ethiopian Government's
Privatization and Public Enterprises Supervising Agency (PPESA) are
open to foreign participation. In some instances, the government
prefers to engage in joint ventures with private companies rather
than sell an entire entity. The government has sold approximately
260 public enterprises since 1994. Most of these enterprises were
small enterprises in the trade and service sectors. Ten of these
enterprises were privatized in 2009 and 93 public enterprises remain
under PPESA control.

--Foreign investors have complained about the abrupt cancellation of

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some government tenders, a perception of favoritism toward Chinese
vendors, and a general lack of transparency in the procurement
system. In September 2009, Proclamation No. 649/2009 established a
new public procurement and property administration agency. This
agency is going to be an autonomous government organ, have its own
judicial arm, and be accountable to the Ministry of Finance and
Economic Development. The government established this new agency in
order to achieve better transparency, efficiency, fairness, and
impartiality in public procurement processes and to ensure that the
government achieves the maximum benefit from public property use.

--Foreign investors do not face unfavorable tax treatment, denial of
licenses, discriminatory import or export policies, or inequitable
tariff and non-tariff barriers. However, some U.S. investors have
experienced difficulties obtaining title deeds to properties
purchased. Although government officials have at times intervened
to resolve these problems, a lasting solution requires policy level

--Ethiopia's World Trade Organization (WTO) accession process has
been underway since 2003. Ethiopia submitted a Memorandum of
Foreign Trade Regime to the WTO Secretariat in December 2006, sent
replies to the first round of WTO member questions in January 2007,
and held its first working party meeting in May 2008. In March
2009, Ethiopia submitted its replies to a second round of questions.
The scheduling of the second working party meeting has been subject
to extensive procedural delay, but is expected to be held in 2010.

--The Ethiopian Government cites 2008/09 (fiscal year ending July 7,
2009) Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth at 10.1%, while the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank estimate it at
6.5%. According to the government, Ethiopia's economy has grown at
an average of 11.5% during the past five years.

--Ethiopia is enduring a severe foreign exchange crisis. Reserves
dropped to $700 million in December 2008, but have only slightly
recovered to $1.8 billion. Reserves have not stabilized due to
Ethiopia's widening trade deficit. Ethiopia's total imports were
$7.7 billion for the 2008/09 fiscal year due to a reliance on
imported petroleum and machinery products. Ethiopia's exports
totaled only $1.4 billion in the same year.

--Ethiopia has been battling high inflation in recent years.
Year-on-year inflation peaked at 64% in July 2008-- the second
highest in Sub-Saharan Africa after Zimbabwe--but it has declined to
0.6% in November 2009. In efforts to combat inflation, the
Ethiopian Government enacted various measures beginning in late
2008, including: capping the lending limits of banks; reducing
government borrowing from domestic banks; eliminating the domestic
fuel price subsidy; depreciating the local currency; importing wheat
and selling at subsidized prices; and lifting import duties on food

--Ethiopia's ranking on various indices:

Indicator Year Index/Ranking

Transparency Int'l Corruption Index 2009 2.7; 120 out
of 180 countries
Heritage Economic Freedom 2009 53.0/+0.5; 135 out of 179
World Bank Doing Business 2010 107 out of 183 countries

Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Scorecard:
MCC Government Effectiveness 2010 0.37 (84%); Median 0.00
MCC Rules of Law 2010 0.29 (66%); Median 0.00
MCC Control of Corruption 2010 0.12 (63%); Median 0.00
MCC Fiscal Policy 2010 -3.5 (22%); Median -1.4
MCC Trade Policy 2010 61.9 (23%); Median 67.9
MCC Regulatory Quality 2010 -0.23 (37%); Median 0.00
MCC Business Start up 2010 0.975 (86%); Median 0.918
MCC Land Rights Access 2010 0.731 (82%); Median 0.612
MCC Natural Resources Mgmt 2010 53.22 (31%); Median 61.61

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3. (U) Conversion and Transfer Policies

--Ethiopia's central bank, the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE),
retains a monopoly on all foreign currency transactions. The NBE
supervises all payments or remittances made abroad. The local
currency (Birr) is not freely convertible. In 2004, the NBE issued
a directive that allows non-resident Ethiopians and non-resident
foreign nationals of Ethiopian origin to establish and operate
foreign currency accounts up to $50,000.

--Ethiopia's Investment Proclamation allows all foreign investors,
whether or not they receive incentives, to remit freely profits and
dividends, principal and interest on foreign loans, and fees related
to technology transfer. Foreign investors may also remit proceeds
from the sale or liquidation of assets, from the transfer of shares
or of partial ownership of an enterprise, and funds required for
debt service or other international payments. The right of
expatriate employees to remit their salaries is granted in
accordance with the foreign exchange regulations of the National
Bank of Ethiopia (NBE). While these transfers are legally allowed,
foreign companies face significant delay in the repatriation of
profits, as the NBE does not have enough hard currency to allocate
to this process. Banks started rationing foreign currency during
2008 on a priority basis, given preference to the state-driven
growth in construction, transport and communication as well as
domestic food and agricultural subsidization programs. Many foreign
investors face delays in importing equipment and spare parts and
businesses must apply for foreign exchange for imports at least
six-to-nine months in advance of their intended need. This lack of
foreign exchange has reportedly forced some companies to buy hard
currency in the illegal parallel market or to pay bribes to move up
on banks' priority lists.

--In 2008, amendments to the Monetary and Banking Proclamation No.
83/1994 and the Banking Business Proclamation No. 84/1994 became
effective (the amendments were Proclamation Numbers 591/2008 and
592/2008, respectively). These laws assigned more authority to NBE
to license and rigorously supervise financial institutions.

--The Ethiopian Government depreciated the Birr over 30% against the
U.S. Dollar between 2004 and 2009. In January 2010, the Birr traded
at 12.7 per U.S. Dollar. The rate offered in the illegal parallel
market made a marked divergence from the official rate starting in
2005, but the spread between the rates narrowed after the government
significantly depreciated the Birr in 2009 and enforced a crackdown
on illegal currency dealers. The parallel market exchange rate was
approximately 13.5 Birr per U.S. Dollar in January 2010.

--Effective November 14, 2006, the NBE ordered that all bank
processes concerning items for export to China shall be undertaken
and overseen by the state-owned Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE).

--In December 2009, the Proclamation on Prevention and Suppression
of Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism became effective.
This legislation calls for the established of a national financial
intelligence unit.

4. (U) Expropriation and Compensation

--Per Ethiopia's 1996 Investment Proclamation and subsequent
amendments, assets of a domestic investor or a foreign investor,
enterprise or expansion cannot be nationalized wholly or partly,
except when required by public interest and in compliance with the
laws and payment of adequate compensation. Such assets may not be
seized, impounded, or disposed of except under a court order.

--Ethiopia's Privatization and Public Enterprises Supervising Agency
(PPESA) stopped accepting requests from owners of formerly
expropriated properties in July 2008. The Derg military regime
nationalized many properties in the 1970s. U.S. citizens are still
involved in negotiating the return of some of these properties

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seized by the Derg with the Ethiopian Government.

--In recent years, U.S. citizens have reported threatened or actual
property expropriation by the government and are involved in ongoing
contractual investment disputes with the government. There are also
complaints against the government by U.S. companies of unlawful
contract termination and non-transparent tender award processes.

--In early 2009, the Ethiopian Government revoked licenses of six
major coffee exporters and seized the coffee warehouses of over
eighty firms as it accused them of "hoarding" coffee in hopes of
selling it later for a higher price. The global price of coffee was
historically low during this time period. The government blamed
these exporters for the decline in coffee exports, while exporters
blamed domestic issues such as new coffee marketing and control
legislation as well as the capacity constraints of the new Ethiopia
Commodity Exchange (ECX).

5. (U) Dispute Settlement

--According to the Investment Proclamation, disputes arising out of
foreign investment that involve a foreign investor or the state may
be settled by means agreeable to both parties. A dispute that
cannot be settled amicably may be submitted to a competent Ethiopian
court or to international arbitration within the framework of any
bilateral or multilateral agreement to which the government and the
investor's state of origin are contracting parties.

--Investors involved in disputes have expressed a lack of confidence
in the judiciary to objectively assess and resolve disputes.
Ethiopia's judicial system is weak, overburdened, poorly staffed and
inexperienced, although efforts are underway to strengthen its
capacity. While property and contractual rights are recognized and
there are commercial and bankruptcy laws, judges often lack
understanding of commercial matters and case scheduling suffers from
extended delays. There is significant government influence and
intervention into legal proceedings, particularly those related to
government entities or officials. There is no guarantee that the
award of an international arbitral tribunal will be fully accepted
and implemented by Ethiopian authorities. Ethiopia has signed, but
never ratified, the 1965 Convention on the Settlement of Investment
Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States.

6. (U) Performance Requirements and Incentives

--The 2003 amendment to the Investment Proclamation outlines the
investment incentives for investors in specific areas. New
investors engaged in manufacturing, agro-industrial activities or
the production of certain agricultural products and who export at
least 50% of their products or supply at least 75% of their product
to an exporter as production input are exempt from income tax for
five years. An investor who exports less than 50% of his product or
supplies his product only to the domestic market is income tax
exempt for two years. Investors who expand or upgrade existing
enterprises and export at least 50% of their output or increase
production by 25% are eligible for income tax exemption for two
years. An investor who invests in the relatively under-developed
regions of Gambella, Benishangul and Gumuz, South Omo, Afar or
Somali Region will be eligible for an additional one-year income tax

--The government has established a special loan fund through the
Development Bank of Ethiopia (DBE) and made available land at low
lease rates for priority export areas such as floriculture, leather
goods, textiles and garments, and agro-processing related products.
An investor can borrow up to 70% of the cost of the project from
this special fund without collateral upon presenting a viable
business plan and 30% personal equity.

--An investor who exports hides and skins after processing only up
to crust level will not be entitled to the income tax incentive. In
2008, a bill imposing an export duty on raw and semi processed hides
and skins ranging from 5% to 150% was passed in efforts to shift the
leather sector to only export finished goods.

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--Investors are allowed to import duty-free capital goods and
construction materials necessary for the establishment of a new
enterprise or for the expansion of an existing enterprise. In
addition, spare parts worth 15% of the value of the capital goods
can be imported duty-free. This privilege may not be granted if
comparable capital goods or construction materials are locally
produced and have competitive prices, quality, and quantity.
Imported duty-free capital goods can no longer be used as loan

--The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development's (MoARD) new
Agricultural Investment Support Directorate offers grace periods of
up to seven years on land rents.

--Ethiopia does not have discriminatory or excessively onerous visa,
residence, or work permit requirements for foreign investors.

7. (U) Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

--Both foreign and domestic private entities have the right to
establish, acquire, own and dispose of most forms of business

--There is no right of private ownership of land. All land is owned
by the state and can be leased for up to 99 years.

8. (U) Protection of Property Rights

--Secured interests in property are protected and enforced, although
all land ownership remains in the hands of the state. Certain
residents have been relocated (and usually compensated) when the
government decides that the land they are living on should be used
for a road or other public use. Many ongoing property disputes date
back to properties seized by the Derg military regime (1974-91). The
current government's position is that property seized "lawfully" by
the Derg (i.e., by court order or government proclamation published
in the official gazette) remains the property of the state. In most
cases, property seized by oral order or other informal means is
gradually being returned to lawful owners or their heirs through a
lengthy bureaucratic process. Claimants are required to pay for
improvements made by the government during the time of its control
over the property.

--Land leasehold regulations vary in form and practice by region.
Land has been made readily available by the authorities to foreign
investors in the manufacturing and agriculture sectors, but less so
for real estate developers. Some investors, including foreign
investors, reportedly have had their land and all assets forcibly
taken by Sudanese authorities without recourse or response from the
Ethiopian Government.

--Mortgages are uncommon as loan terms are generally quite short.
There is no system of recording security interests.

--Ethiopia has yet to sign a number of major international
intellectual property rights (IPR) treaties, such as: the Paris
Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property; the World
Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) copyright treaty; the
Berne Convention for Literary and Artistic Works; and the Patent
Cooperation Treaty. The Ethiopian Intellectual Property Rights
Office (EIPO) has been tasked only to protect Ethiopian copyrighted
materials and pirated software; foreign works are not considered
part of their purview. Generally, EIPO has weak capacity in terms
of manpower and law enforcement. In addition, a number of
businesses, particularly in the tourism and service industries,
operate in Ethiopia are freely using well-known trademarked names or
symbols without permission.

9. (U) Transparency of Regulatory System

--Ethiopia's regulatory system is generally considered fair, though

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there are instances in which burdensome regulatory or licensing
requirements have prevented the local sale of U.S. exports,
particularly personal hygiene and health care products. Government
ministries often pass decisions and associated paperwork to various
other ministries before any decision is finalized. In many cases,
this paperwork gets stuck in one ministry and no decision is made.

--Investment, business, and other licenses for foreign investors can
now be obtained from the Ethiopian Investment Agency in a matter of

--Proposed national laws are generally circulated for public comment
prior to enactment.

10. (U) Efficient Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

--Access to finance is an impediment to increased private
investment. While credit is available to investors on market terms,
the 100% collateral requirement limits the ability of some investors
to take advantage of business opportunities. In addition, due to
current inflationary concerns, the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE)
(central bank) does not allow commercial banks to lend above their
current limits. Export-oriented investors can borrow from a special
fund at the Development Bank of Ethiopia without collateral for up
to 70% of the project cost.

--Ethiopia currently has fifteen banks--three state-owned and twelve
privately-owned. Two more private banks are under formation but not
yet licensed. Foreign banks are not permitted to provide financial
services in Ethiopia. The state-owned Commercial Bank of Ethiopia
owns approximately two-thirds of the $11.6 billion in total assets
of the banking sector (as of mid-2008 using exchange rate of 9.62
Birr/U.S. Dollar). Due to the NBE's recently-imposed stringent
supervision, the commercial banks' non-performing loan ratio is
declining and below 15%.

--Ethiopia does not have a securities market, although a private
sector initiative to establish a mechanism for buying and selling
company shares is under discussion.

--The Ethiopian Government partially controls interest rates. The
government cannot affect interest rates through market actions and
retains the right to set interest rates. The NBE determines the
bank deposit rate floor, which now stands at 4%, while loan interest
rates are allowed to float. Real interest rates have been negative
in recent years mainly driven by high inflation. The government
offers a limited number of 28 days, 3-month, and 6-month Treasury
bills, but prohibits the interest rate from exceeding the bank
deposit rate. The yields on these T-bills are very low, 0.68% for
28 days, 0.90% for 91 days, and 0.70% for 182-days bill as of
October 2009. This market remains unattractive to the private
sector and over 95% of the T-bills are held by the state-owned
Commercial Bank of Ethiopia.

--The Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX) was launched in 2008 and
currently offers trades of commodities such as coffee, sesame seeds,
corn, and wheat. The government launched ECX to increase
transparency in commodity pricing, alleviate food shortages, and
encourage the commercialization of agriculture. Both buyers and
sellers have complained of ECX inefficiency and ineffectiveness
since its establishment; however, the exchange continues to make
improvements in attempts to address these concerns.

--There are no laws or regulations authorizing private firms to
adopt articles of incorporation/association that limit or prohibit
foreign investment, participation or control. There are no private
sector or government efforts to restrict foreign participation in
industry standards setting consortia or organizations. There are no
known instances of private firms attempting to restrict foreign
investment, participation, or control of domestic enterprises.
There are no "cross-shareholding" or "stable shareholder"
arrangements used by private firms to restrict foreign investment
through mergers or acquisitions.

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11. (U) Competition from State-Owned Enterprises

--Despite the Ethiopian Government's promotion of the private
sector, state-owned enterprises, and ruling party-owned entities
dominate the major sectors of the economy. There is state monopoly
or state-run dominance in sectors such as telecommunications, power,
banking, and insurance. Ruling party-affiliated "endowment"
companies have a strong presence in the fertilizer, textile, and
transport sectors.

--State-owned enterprises have considerable advantages over private
firms, particularly in the realm of Ethiopia's regulatory and
bureaucratic environment, including ease of access to credit and
speedier customs clearance. Local business owners as well as
foreign investors complain of the lack of a level playing field when
it comes to state-owned and party-owned businesses. While there is
no report of credit advancement to these entities, there are
indications that they receive incentives such as priority foreign
exchange allocation, preferences in government tenders, and
marketing assistance.

--Corporate governance of state-owned enterprises is structured and
monitored by a board of directors composed of senior government
officials and politically-affiliated individuals. Ethiopia's
published national budget does not include the financial activity of
these enterprises.

--The World Bank Investment Climate Competitiveness Surveys of 2002,
2004 and 2006 concluded that government preferences play an
important role in distorting competition in Ethiopia. Types of
government preferences identified in the report included ownership
of enterprises, directed credit, and reduced barriers to entry.

12. (U) Corporate Social Responsibility

--Some larger international companies have introduced corporate
social responsibility (CSR) programs; however, most local companies
do not practice CSR. There is a movement to develop CSR programs by
the Ministry of Trade and Industry in collaboration with the World
Bank, U.S. Agency for International Development, and others. The
Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce, in cooperation with regional
chambers, is also creating awareness on the generally accepted CSR

13. (U) Political Violence

--While Ethiopia has been relatively stable and secure for
investors, cases of ethnic or religious violence have become more
frequent and political tensions are high. Cases of small localized
bombings have occurred, particularly in and around Addis Ababa, in
recent years. While investors are not normally affected, insurgents
operating in the Somali Region of Ethiopia have warned investors
against exploring oil or natural gas resources in this area. In
April 2007, the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) attacked
Chinese and Ethiopian workers at an oil exploration site which was
surrounded by military forces. Over 70 workers were killed in this
attack. Political tensions exist along many of Ethiopia's border
areas with Sudan, Eritrea, and Somalia.

--There was political unrest, violent protests and numerous arrests
following the disputed May 2005 elections. Ethiopian Government
forces killed over 200 Ethiopians during these protests. While the
unrest had largely subsided by 2007, national elections in May 2010
have potential to trigger renewed political unrest. There have been
numerous claims of voter intimidation and coercion of opposition
party candidates and members in recent months.

--In 2009, the Ethiopian Government passed an Antiterrorism
Proclamation granting executive branch-controlled security services
virtually unlimited authority to take unilateral action to disrupt
suspected terrorist activities. Terrorist activities are broadly
defined in the legislation and could be used to define political
activities. The proclamation does not require judicial review of
such activities, but does give the courts the option, ex-post, to

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review past events. The Proclamation authorizes hearsay testimony
as adequate in judicial proceedings.

--A Civil Society Organizations (CSO) law, adopted in February 2009,
prohibits CSOs that receive more than 10% of their funding from
foreign sources from engaging in activities that promote human
rights and democracy; the rights of children and the disabled;
equality among nations, nationalities, people, gender and religion;
or conflict resolution or reconciliation. The Ethiopian Government
has stated the law aims to increase the transparency and
accountability of CSOs to stakeholders and restrict foreign
involvement in purely domestic advocacy, but critics of the law have
expressed concern that it will prevent the capacity development of
civil society and undermine CSOs' watchdog role.

14. (U) Corruption

--Ethiopia ratified the United Nations (UN) Anticorruption
Convention in 2007.

--The UN Investment Guide to Ethiopia (2004) asserted that routine
bureaucratic corruption is virtually non-existent in Ethiopia. The
guide added that bureaucratic delays certainly exist, but are not
devices by which officials seek bribes.

--According to Transparency International's corruption perception
index, Ethiopia's rating has declined in the past two years after
spiking in the aftermath of the 2005 elections. Ethiopia ranked
130th out of 146 countries rated in 2004 (a higher number indicates
a higher level of corruption), 137th out of 163 countries rated in
2006, 138th out of 180 countries rated in 2007, 126th out of 180
countries rated in 2008 and 120th out of 180 countries rated in
2009. There are suspicions that the frequent cancellation of
telecommunications, power lottery, and other infrastructure tenders
may be a result of corruption.

--The Ministry of Justice and the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption
Commission (FEACC) are charged with combating corruption. Since its
establishment, the Commission has arrested many officials on charges
of corruption, including managers of the Privatization Agency,
Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation, National Bank of Ethiopia,
Ethiopian Geological Survey, the state-owned Commercial Bank of
Ethiopia, and private businessmen. The Commission reported that it
arrested and conducted investigations on 203 corruption suspects
from August 2008 to January 2009. In 2009, there were also several
arrests of businessmen for alleged tax evasion.

--It is a criminal offense to give or receive bribes, and bribes are
not tax deductible.

15. (U) Bilateral Investment Agreements

--Ethiopia has bilateral investment and protection agreements with
China, Denmark, Italy, Kuwait, Malaysia, Netherlands, Russia, Sudan,
Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, Yemen, Spain, Algeria, Austria, UK,
Belgium/Luxemburg, Libya, Egypt, Germany, Finland, India, and
Equatorial Guinea and a protection of investment and property
acquisition agreement with Djibouti. A Treaty of Amity and Economic
Relations, which entered into force in 1953, governs economic and
consular relations with the United States. Ethiopia also has double
taxation treaties with thirteen countries, including Italy, Kuwait,
Romania, Russia, Tunisia, Yemen, Israel, South Africa and Sudan.
There is no double taxation treaty between the U.S. and Ethiopia.

16. (U) OPIC and Other Investment Insurance Programs

--The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) has offered
risk insurance and loans to U.S. investors in Ethiopia in the past,
but has not originated any investment in Ethiopia in recent years.
In 2007, OPIC established the Enterprise Development Network
(EDN)--an alliance between OPIC and the private sector--to help
source and process small business deals. The International
Executive Service Corps (IESC), a non-profit economic development
organization, became involved in this alliance as a loan originator.

ADDIS ABAB 00000073 010.2 OF 011

--Ethiopia is a member of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee
Agency (MIGA).

17. (U) Labor

--Ethiopia's labor force is estimated at 35 million, of which 80%
are employed in subsistence agriculture, mostly as farmers. The
Ethiopian Government and armed forces are the most important sectors
of employment outside of agriculture and provide work for almost 3
million people. Approximately 40% of the urban workforce is
unemployed. The high urban underemployment is partially offset by
an informal economy. According to a May 2006 International Labor
Organization (ILO) survey, the informal sector constitutes 70% to
80% of the workforce. The economy is growing, but does not generate
enough jobs for the 600,000 new entrants per year.

--Labor remains readily available and inexpensive in Ethiopia.
Skilled manpower, however, is scarce in many fields. Ethiopia's
illiteracy rate is over 60%.

--The right to form labor associations and engage in collective
bargaining is constitutionally guaranteed for many workers, but
excludes managerial employees, teachers, and civil servants. Only
about 300,000 workers are members of labor unions. Most ILO Core
Labor Standards have been enacted into law.

--Ethiopia has ratified all eight core ILO conventions. The
Ethiopian Penal Code outlaws work specified as hazardous by ILO
conventions. The Ethiopian Parliament ratified ILO Convention 182
on the Worst Forms of Child Labor in May 2003.

--Child labor is widespread in Ethiopia. While not a pressing issue
in the formal economy, child labor is common in rural agrarian areas
and the informal economy in urban areas. Employers are statutorily
prohibited from hiring children under the age of 14. There are
strict labor laws defining what sectors may hire "young workers,"
defined as workers aged 14 to 18, but these laws are infrequently

--Ethiopia generally enjoys labor peace. There was no formal labor
strike in 2009 possibly due in part to the government's prohibition
on public demonstrations. The government re-certified the
Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Unions (CETU) in April 1997. Since
its re-certification, CETU (with a constituent membership of
182,000) has focused on fundamental workers' concerns, such as job
security, pay increases, severance pay, and health and retirement
benefits. The new labor law that went into effect in February 2004
and amended in 2006 is generally considered pro-employer by labor
unions. Workers who perform essential services are not permitted to
strike. The Ethiopian Employers' Association (EEA) is dedicated to
maintaining labor peace and works in harmony with the ILO, CETU and
the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. Its leadership supports
the adoption of all ILO Core Labor Standards. In general,
entrepreneurs believe that cooperating with labor is in their

--Although the law provides for workers' rights, unions have
reported that employers frequently terminate workers for union
activities. Anti-union discrimination is prevalent in the workplace
and workers have found it difficult to conduct strikes. The ruling
party tightly controls the leadership of the Confederation of Labor
Unions and often influences union elections. Unemployment is high
and poses major challenges to the organization of labor. There is
no national minimum wage standard and many workers find it difficult
to attain a decent standard of living.

18. (U) Foreign Trade Zones/Free Trade Zones

--There are no areas designated as foreign trade zones and/or free
ports in Ethiopia. Because of the 1998-2000 Ethiopian-Eritrean war,
Ethiopian exports and imports through the Eritrean port of Assab are
prohibited. As a result, Ethiopia conducts almost all of its trade

ADDIS ABAB 00000073 011.2 OF 011

through the port of Djibouti with some trade via the Somaliland port
of Berbera. Despite Ethiopia's efforts to clamp down on small-scale
trade of contraband, unregulated exports of coffee, live animals,
chat (a mildly narcotic amphetamine-like leaf), fruit and
vegetables, and imports of cigarettes, alcohol, textiles,
electronics and other consumer goods continues.

19. (U) Foreign Direct Investment Statistics

--Foreign direct investment (FDI) flows into Ethiopia have gradually
increased in the last few years. According to estimates by the
National Bank of Ethiopia, it increased from $150 million in 2005 to
$880 million in 2009 (about 3% of GDP). Floriculture, horticulture,
and leather are the sectors that have attracted the most FDI.
Recently, commercial farming has attracted Indian, Saudi, European,
and U.S. investors. The stock of U.S. foreign direct investment
since 1992 in Ethiopia reached $255 million as of September 2009,
which includes both projects under implementation and operation.

--U.S. companies with a significant presence and participation in
Ethiopia's economy include Boeing, Cargill, Sheraton Hotels, Lucent
Technologies, Cisco, Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, Schaffer & Associates,
Pioneer Hi-Bred Seeds, Federal Express, United Parcel Service,
Caterpillar, Mack Trucks, General Motors, Rank/Xerox Corporation,
John Deere, Navistar, Rx for Africa, and Hughes Network.


© Scoop Media

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