Addis Standard (Addis Ababa)

20 December 2013

Ethiopia: France Wants to Strengthen Business Relations With Ethiopia

This week Ethiopia and France have decided to consolidate their relations through trade and investment. Senator Nicole Bricq, French Foreign Trade Minister, led a delegation of 25 from the private sector to participate in a business forum held on Dec. 19th at the Sheraton Addis. "This is a sixth visit in sub-Saharan Africa," said Senator Nicole Bricq. As part of four loan agreements to the energy sector, in the areas of electricity and waste management in Addis Ababa, France signed two loan agreements during the forum. "We want Ethiopia to be a partner," said senator Bricq.

"Ethiopia has a huge investment potential, cheap labor and great cultivable land. The government has different incentive packages such as 5-7 years tax holiday for investors. We want to do genuine business," said Mulu Solomon, president of the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations.

Senator Bricq admitted that France will get into a fierce competition with Chinese investors. But as long as business goes genuine, "we will appreciate the competition."

Nonetheless, France has been a good market for Ethiopian commodities and vice versa. In the Year 2012 total trade between the two countries grew to over two billion birr, up from 0.73 billion birr five years earlier; but the balance remains firmly in favor of France with Ethiopian exports amounting to just 210 million birr last year and imports from France reaching 1.81 billion birr. Ethiopia, however, is France's 11th-biggest customer and its 13th-leading supplier.

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