Implications of Ethiopia’s international trade negotiations and the private sector – an overarching view

Ethiopia is currently involved in a number of international trade negotiations which will have a far-reaching impact on the Ethiopian economy. Negotiations take place both at the multilateral level (Ethiopia’s accession to the World Trade Organisation) and inter-regionally (Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union). Regionally, studies are under way on the establishment of economic integration among members of the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development and the Sana’a Forum for Co-operation. Finally, a decision will have to be taken regarding Ethiopia’s potential joining the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa’s (COMESA) Free Trade Area – which might be superseded by a Tripartite FTA combining the 26 members of COMESA, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the East African Community (EAC).

Against this background, the paper pursues a number of objectives. First, it assesses the likely implications for the Ethiopian economy of the ongoing and planned international trade negotiations in which Ethiopia is involved. Second, the paper aims at helping develop a coherent strategy for all of Ethiopia’s current and international trade negotiations. Third, it raises awareness among the Ethiopian business community about the various international trade negotiations in which Ethiopia is involved and thus contributes to devising a positive and proactive agenda by forging consensus and commitment among private sector representatives and building a strategic partnership between public and private sector leaders in order to leverage regional and multilateral negotiations.

Keywords: EPA, African regional integration, trade policy formulation, public-private dialogue, trade negotiations, Ethiopia

JEL Codes: F14, F15, F15, F50

Trade and development discussion paper no. 03/2010, September 2010

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