Preparedness of the Ethiopian Private Sector to Benefit from WTO Accession

Arguably, the accession of Ethiopia to the World Trade Orgainsation (WTO) will have an important impact on the country's private sector. In spite of this, the private sector's role in accession negotiations has to date been very limited. Although the private sector is represented in Ethiopia's WTO Technical Committee, so far no strategy has been prepared by the private sector in order to ensure that WTO accession works to its benefit. With an estimated three to four years left until accession, the definition and implementation of such a strategy now is an urgent task, as measures will take time to yield results.

This paper intends to provide answers to several key questions related to Ethiopia's WTO accession. To start with, an overview is given of how accession will have a – positive or negative – impact on the Ethiopian private sector. In doing this, two core interests of the Ethiopian private sector are distinguished: the first one relates to offensive interests – i.e. how will accession affect Ethiopia's competitiveness on export markets around the globe? And secondly: what will be the impact on import competing sectors – i.e. what are the private sector's defensive interests?

In a second stage the paper provide a brief assessment of how current Government schemes support the Ethiopian private sector and to what extent they will be helpful in the context of WTO accession. Finally, some recommendations are made on what the private sector could do in order to reap the benefits of accession as well as enhance its international competitiveness in general.

Trade and development discussion paper no. 02/2009, July 2009

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