The Ministry of Trade has suspended 22 businesses licenses engaged in import and export business activities in Addis Ababa.
Company representatives told The Reporter that most of the companies are engaged in import activities for the past several years. The representatives said that the ministry’s Trade Registration and Licensing Office suspended the business licenses on the ground that they are owned by foreign nationals. Most of the companies are engaged in the import of spare parts and food items. According to the representatives, most of the companies are owned by Italian and Indian dissents that lived in Ethiopia for many years. Some of the importing companies are owned by Chinese nationals.
Sources said that the Ministry of Trade suspended the business licenses saying that the companies are engaged in the import business which is reserved only for Ethiopian nationals. According to sources, the companies were licensed as they were considered as locals because they lived in the country for many years. “Most of them are of Italian and Indian dissents that lived in Ethiopia for many years. Some of them were born and raised in Ethiopia. That is why they were considered as local investors,” sources said.
Company representatives told The Reporter that the business licenses were suspended two weeks ago adding that they would be revoked within 30 days. “These companies have commitments to import and deliver spare parts and other items to governmental and private companies. They have many Ethiopian employees on their payrolls. Some of the companies are partially owned by Ethiopians,” the representatives said.
Trade Registration and Licensing Office head, Alemayehu Bayissa, declined to comment on the matter saying that it was the ministers who would give a press briefing on the issue. An official at the ministry told The Reporter that the cases were being investigated. “These companies are allegedly owned by foreigners and they are engaged in business activities which are reserved only for local business people. Foreign nationals cannot engage in business activities reserved only for Ethiopians. We work based on the Trade Registration and Licensing Proclamation,” the official said.
He further stated that three of the company owners claim that they are Ethiopians. “They have come up with documents from the Main Department for Immigration and Nationality Affairs and it is being investigated,” the official said.
He said that the Ministry has the mandate to regulate the trade sector and take appropriate measures when malpractices are observed.
There are growing concerns by local business people about foreign nationals engaged in business activities reserved only for Ethiopians.