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US enterprise backs Ethiopia’s private sector in WTO accession

The US based nonprofit enterprise has pledged to back the Ethiopian private sector to be part of the World Trade Organization (WTO) accession process.

Launching a regional office for East Africa within the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) last week in Addis Ababa, Abdulwahab Alkebsi, managing director of programs with CIPE, was present in town. In an interview with The Reporter, Alkebsi said that as part of a capacity building program CIPE provides to chambers and business associations, it is willing to assist the Ethiopian private sector to be part of the negotiations of Ethiopia’s accession to the WTO. 

It has been 15 years now since Ethiopia formally initiated the process of WTO accession and it still remains slated from moving forward from the preliminary stages of the process. Some six years ago, the country was about to turn to the service offering stage, concluding “the goods offer negotiations”. However, following the death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, the accession process was halted for some time. 

Hailemelkot Asfaw, regional director for East Africa with CIPE, and Alkebsi said that it is vital to bring actors in the private sector to the negotiating table in the WTO accession process. However, the initiative remains to be further discussed among authorities and the national negotiators’ team. 

An affiliate to the US Chamber of Commerce, CIPE is also providing a technical assistance to the national and regional chambers of commerce in Ethiopia for years. Currently, the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Association (ECCSA) is considering to amend the proclamation that constituted its establishment 16 years ago. In the process, CIPE expressed willingness to provide expertise, Alkebsi said.

A longstanding partner of ECCSA, the US nonprofit enterprise will expand its undertakings in the region on anti-corruption compliance, industrial linkage development, and economic governance; both Alkebsi and Hailemelekot told The Reporter.

 Established in 1983, CIPE advocates for the enrichment of anti-corruption and ethical behaviors across the private sector. It prioritizes enterprise ecosystems to be strengthened elsewhere in the business sector.