Includes how foreign exchange is managed and implications for U.S. business
Last Published: 12/11/2018

Foreign Exchange reserves maintained by the government of Ethiopia remain at low-levels, a longstanding challenges for those seeking to source from abroad. As of mid-2018, foreign exchange reserves were approximately $3.4 billion, sufficient to cover less than two months of imports. In addition, the decrease in foreign exchange reserves has been exacerbated by international debt obligations to fund previously built infrastructure projects. 

All payments abroad require permits and all transactions in foreign exchange must be carried out through authorized dealers supervised by the NBE. The NBE has delegated most of the foreign exchange transaction functions to the commercial banks but maintains authority to approve large foreign exchange allocations. Importers and exporters can obtain import/export permits through the commercial banks. In addition, exporters can retain indefinitely 30% of their foreign exchange proceeds, but must sell the remaining 70% to commercial banks within four weeks. Foreign investors may repatriate all of their profits abroad. 

Foreign exchange shortages due to weak export performance and high demand for foreign currency will continue to present significant market challenges, particularly for potential Ethiopian buyers of U.S. goods and services. Private sector actors widely complain about the shortage of foreign exchange and point out the adverse implications on their businesses. As a result of the critical shortage of foreign currency, NBE regulations require commercial banks to allocate foreign currency to importers based on GTP II priorities. State owned enterprises and government sponsored infrastructure projects usually are given priority over the private sector when competing for access to foreign exchange. The foreign exchange crunch has intensified recently with delays of more than a year, especially to investors in non-priority sectors. Given the poor performance of exports in past years and growing demand for import of capital goods, foreign exchange availability will continue to be a challenge for businesses in the future. Local sourcing of inputs and partnering with export-oriented partners are strategies employed by the private sector to address the foreign exchange shortage. 

As the new government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed enacts economic reforms, changes to foreign exchange policy can be expected in 2018 and 2019. In May 2018, the Government of Ethiopia authorized the use of offshore accounts to fund imports in Ethiopia, eliminating the need to obtain a foreign exchange allocation and enabling importers with accounts abroad to be less constrained by the foreign exchange shortage. 

US Banks & Local Correspondent Banks
U.S. banks are prohibited from operating in Ethiopia. The following are some Ethiopian banks with correspondent relationships with U.S. banks: 

Awash International Bank 
P.O. Box 12638 
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 
Tel: +251-11-661 - 4682/662 7828
Fax: +251-11-661-4477 

Bank of Abyssinia 
P.O. Box 12947 
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 
Tel: +251-11-551-4130 
Fax: +251-11-551-0409 

Berhan International Bank S.C.
P.O. Box 387 code 1110
Tel + 251- 11- 618- 57 32

Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) 
P.O. Box 255 
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 
Tel: ++251-11- 122 87 55/ 251-11-122 90 34 / 251- 115- 51 50 00
Fax: 251-111 22 85 84

Dashen Bank 
P.O. Box 12752 
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 
Tel: +251 -11- 467 18 03
Fax: +251-11-465-3037 

Enat Bank
Phone: +251 115 158278 / 507074 
Fax : +251 115 151338 / 504948
P.O.Box: 18401, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Address: Kirkos sub-city, woreda 8, in front of Yordanos Hotel.

Lion International Bank S.C 
P.O. Box 27026 Code 1000 
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 
Tel: +251-11-662-6000 
Fax: +251-11-662 7114

National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) (Central Bank) 
P.O. Box 5550 
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 
Tel: +251-11-551-7438
Fax: +251-11-551-4588 

Nib International Bank 
P.O. Box 2439 
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 
Tel: +251-11-550-3288/550-3304 
Fax: +251-11-550-4349 

United Bank 
P.O. Box 19963 
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 
Tel: +251-11-465-5222/465-5240
Fax: +251-11-465-5243 

Wegagen Bank 
P.O. Box 1018 
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 
Tel: +251-11-552-3800 
Fax: +251-11-552-3520/552-3521 

Zemen Bank S.C 
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 
Tel: +251-11-550-1111/011-554-0074/55
Fax: +251-11-553-9042

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Ethiopia Market Access Foreign Exchange