Ethiopia’s external trade sector is characterized by a significant product & market concentration. Primary commodities such as coffee, hides & skins, live animals, pulses and oil seeds heavily dominate its export trade. Its imports consist of, among others, semi-finished goods, petroleum & petroleum products, food items, pharmaceuticals, vehicles & spare parts, raw materials as well as industrial and agricultural capital goods. When it comes to markets, the developed market economies absorb and supply over 70 % of the country’s exports & imports. Coffee is the most important export item accounting for about 60% of the country’s export earnings. Cognizant of the need to reduce dependence on coffee and other few primary export commodities, the government gives emphasis towards export promotion & diversification. In this line, a new export development strategy has been adopted. The strategy emphasizes the need to:
– increase the quantity and quality of existing export items,
– diversify export items to new, better & high value agriculture products,
– develop a new basis for exports of labor intensive manufacturing goods like leather and leather products, and textile garments,
– explore & develop mineral & fuel deposits for exports.
With a view to facilitating implementation of this strategy and providing a comprehensive support to exporters, the government has set up recently an Export Promotion Agency (EPA). For more information on coffee please
Customs Tariff Nomenclature
Ethiopia is a member of the World Customs Organization and has acceded to the International Convention on Harmonized Description and Coding System. According to the Harmonized System (HS) tariff structure, most of the goods imported previously duty free and those with specific duty rates were replaced by ad valorem rate. In the tariff structure, whether durable or not, goods are given a tariff code & classified on the basis of their type & characteristics in to 21 sections & 99 chapters.
The Government of Ethiopia, since 1992, has taken successive measures to drastically & progressively reduce rates of customs duty to open the local market to foreign competition. This measure has the following features:
– maximum import tariff has been reduced from 230% to 50 %,
– weighted average rate has been reduced from 41.6% to 21.5%,
– 65% of importable items are within the range of 5% to 20% duty,
– tariff bands have been reduced to seven (excluding zero-duty rate),
– there are no discriminatory duty exemptions,
– all export taxes have been abolished.
A further reduction in the maximum tariff rate to 40% and the weighted rate to 19.5% is also being considered.
There are also no restrictions in the import of any goods except for those items which are socially and morally harmful (eg. drugs, armaments, indecent prints, counterfeit money etc.). There is neither import ban nor quantitative import restriction.
Commercial banks which are licensed in Ethiopia are authorized to facilitate imports and provide associated services against submission of the required
Documents by the importer. The payment methods can be one of the following: Letter of Credit (L/C), Cash against Document (CAD), Advance Payment, Suppliers Credit, and External
Ethiopia’s Export Commodities
The major export commodities of Ethiopia are presented below;
Coffee:- being the origin of coffee arabica, Ethiopia has immense potential to offer to the world varieties of flavors of organically produced washed & sun dried coffee. This sector accounts for about 60% of the country’s export earnings. More than 90% of the nation’s coffee harvested is organically produced. The country produces several types of coffee whose water-soluble extracts can be used for hot beverages, iced drinks, ice creams & in the confectionery industry.
Leather and Leather Products:- Ethiopia also offers a wide range of processed and semi-processed hides & skins to the world market. This sector accounts for about 14% of the total exports. Ethiopia’s high quality exportable hides & skins include: pickled, wet blue and crust sheep skins; wet blue & crust goat skins; crust cow hides, finished garment leather, lining/upper leather, suede leather, full grain leather, embossed leather, patent leather, and so on.
Live Animals & Meat:- Ethiopia has the largest cattle population in Africa. Livestock husbandry is mostly carried out under natural grazing, making the meat and products very tasty & nutritionally healthy.
Oil Seeds & Pulses:- the oilseeds and pulses of Ethiopia are also known for their flavour and nutritional value as they are mostly produced organically. The major oilseeds & pulses for export include; sesame seed/Humera,Wollega and Bure Type/, Niger seed, linseeds, sunflower seeds, ground nuts, rape seeds, castor oil seeds, pumpkin seeds, haricot beans, pea beans, horse beans & chickpeas. For more detail information visit ethiopian pulses oilseeds and spices processors exporters associatione site.
Other major quality export commodities of Ethiopia are tea, mineral products, different kinds of fruits & vegetables, flowers, varieties of spices, beverages, civet, bees wax, cotton etc.
for more daily market information kindly refer to the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange site