Generalizes on the best strategy to enter the market, e.g., visiting the country; importance of relationships to finding a good partner; use of agents.
Last Published: 10/30/2019

Accessing the Ethiopian market often requires the following: undertaking a judicious assessment of the market opportunities, conducting extensive due diligence, and developing personal relationships. U.S. firms should consider appointing experienced and reliable local agents or distributors to represent their products and services in Ethiopia. Ethiopian-Americans, living in the United States or in Ethiopia, often serve as good resources in establishing U.S.-Ethiopian partnerships. Hiring a local lawyer to review documents and contracts is essential for any investor. The Government of Ethiopia (GOE) requires that all commodity imports be channeled through Ethiopian nationals registered as official import or distribution agents with the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MOTI). There is no substitute for conducting meetings in person and spending time on the ground to build relationships and form business partnerships. Email communication should not be substituted for in-person meetings.

A significant portion of Ethiopia's imports are solicited through government tenders, primarily issued by the Public Procurement & Property Disposal Service (PPPDS) and, with respect to the Ministry of Health, the Pharmaceutical Supply Agency (PSA). The tender announcements are made accessible to all interested potential bidders, regardless of the nationality of the supplier or origin of the products/services. Some U.S. companies have raised cncerns regarding a lack of transparency in the PPPDS and PSA tender bid evaluation processes. The new government of PM Abiy Ahmed has undertaken signficiant enformencent actions against corruption, which has included detaining eight senior exectutives at PPPDS and the Public Procuurment Agency (PPA) including the Director General for PPPDS and the Deputy Director General for PPA. All eight executives were charged with corruption and PPPDS is currently undergoing a thorough reform process with a new acting Director General appointed.

Ethiopia has its own unique calendar year. The Ethiopian calendar has 13 months, 12 months with 30 days each and one month of 5 or 6 days depending on whether the year is a leap year or not. The Ethiopian calendar year begins on 11th September, which is the Ethiopian New Year, and ends on 10th September. The government fiscal year starts on 8th July and ends on 7th July. Both the Ethiopian calendar and fiscal year fall in two Gregorian calendar years. This is important for U.S. companies organizing their visits to Ethiopia. Companies should avoid the Ethiopian New Year as many government officials, offices and key private sector companies are not available. Companies should be aware of the Ethiopian fiscal year when approaching the government to finance goods and services to ensure funding and appropriate approval timeline.

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Ethiopia Trade Development and Promotion