News / Economy

Ethiopia May Delay Joining WTO in 2015; Cites Competition

A general view of the Friendship City Center shopping mall in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, May 26, 2014.
A general view of the Friendship City Center shopping mall in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, May 26, 2014.
Reuters
Ethiopia may delay plans to join the World Trade Organization in 2015 if the country is required to liberalize its tightly regulated telecoms and banking industries sooner than it would like, the trade minister said.
 
Kebede Chane told lawmakers late on Tuesday that member countries had raised dozens of questions with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn's government, focusing on the time frame for opening up the service sector to international competition.
 
Ethiopia's fast-growing market of 90 million people has lured foreign investors from Sweden, China and Turkey to its manufacturing sector. But laws deny outside firms access to areas viewed domestically as cash-cows or politically sensitive.
 
Washington, which wants Ethiopia to allow more competition, said it was committed to renewing its African Growth and Opportunities Act with Addis Ababa, an accord that gives Ethiopia-made textiles preferential access to U.S. markets.
 
"A lot of issues are being raised regarding the service sector," Kebede said in parliament, referring to the telecoms, banking and power industries. "We are being asked to clarify our timetable for privatizing these sectors."
 
State-interventionist policies

Addis Ababa, with its strong state-interventionist policies, has one of sub-Saharan Africa's fastest growing economies and its fifth biggest.
 
But it has spurned the liberalizing approach of other African markets to shield its infant private sector from foreign competition and to keep profits at home.
 
Reuters revealed this week that Ethiopia - once run by communists - was pushing the door ajar to outside investors by offering management of government-owned enterprises while leaving the state in full control.
 
U.S. retail giant Walmart's unit Massmart  told Reuters Ethiopia offered a "compelling growth opportunity."
 
"[Washington] is interested in ways to update the legislation to encourage diversification within Africa's economies, which will better support the continent's growth, development and competitiveness," U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said in a statement after visiting Ethiopia.
 
Other big brands are prising open the door in areas opened up by the government. Drinks giant Diageo DGE.L bought a brewery and fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz makes garments in Ethiopia. Trade officials said last year that Unilever  and Nestle were both sniffing around.
 
However, Ethiopia has held onto control of its telecoms monopoly and kept foreigners out of retail and banking.
 
U.S. deal

A U.S. management consultancy firm this week announced its deal to run Ethiopia's just-launched state-owned cash-and-carry chain, the first such retail concession.
 
Kebede said Addis Ababa was under pressure to deepen reform to liberalize its service industries before the conclusion of its current five-year economic plan ending in 2015.
 
"We need to give serious thought to this issue," Kebede said. "Right now, our economy is small and still needs to develop a lot."
 
The minister cited Asian powerhouse China, which he said took 50 years to accept membership into the global trading club.
 
New WTO rules adopted in 2012 lowered the bar for joining for the world's least developed countries. They allow members to open fewer sectors, liberalize fewer types of transactions, and only open up their markets as their economies develop.
 
"We are now looking into which laws are compatible with WTO's regulations and which are not. We are taking one step at a time. As a result, membership might not be completed [in 2015]," Kebede said.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violencei
X
Lenny Ruvaga
November 27, 2014 7:05 PM
The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8012
JPY
USD
117.52
GBP
USD
0.6346
CAD
USD
1.1249
INR
USD
61.875

Rates may not be current.