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SoE costs trade expo, travel cancellations

SoE costs trade expo, travel cancellations

While the motion for high-level political meetings was in full gear during the week, business meetings were fading away as a trade expo and business travels got canceled.

The international horticulture expo, which was scheduled to be held in mid-March, has been canceled and postponed to next year, The Reporter has learnt.

The trade expo, which is dubbed “HortiFlora Expo 2018” and was expected to be attended by some 120 international buyers, exhibitors, experts and local producers, was cancelled due to the SoE which came into effect in early March and is likely to stay for a six-month period. The Ethiopian Horticulture Producers and Exporters Association (EHPEA) has been organizing and hosting the expo for the past eight years.

When asked why the expo was cancelled and pushed for next year, Tewodros Zewdie, executive director of EHPEA, told The Reporter that almost all foreign exhibitors and visitors declined to come following the declaration of the SoE and the issuance of a stern travel warning by some countries. HortiFlora Expo 2018 was set to be held on March 14-16, 2018 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at the Millennium Hall. The specialized trade fair, which takes place every two years, was targeting potential investors since the government has made a couple of reshuffles in the horticulture sector. Under the auspices of the outgoing Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn, last year, the Ethiopian Horticulture and Agriculture Investment Authority has been formed from the merger of the Ethiopian Horticulture Development Agency and the Agricultural Investment and Land Administration Agency.

Floriculture industry has developed over the past 15-years morphing into a full-fledged industry leader for exporting cut flowers.

It has been mentioned that the country is best qualified for the production and export of horticulture produces. Ethiopia is the second largest producer in Africa, next to Kenya. Eyeing latent potential in the horticulture sector, the government set aside 5,000 hectares of land in the Amhara, Oromia and Southern regional states. Within a length of 15 years, less than 2,000 plots of land have been developed to earmark USD 275 million, and this year USD 435 million, is the target revenue expected.

In a related news, The Reporter has learnt that scholars from the US Wharton University of Pennsylvania who were expected to visit Ethiopia, have canceled travel schedules in light of the SoE and travel warnings the US and many foreign countries have issued. The latest travel alert issued on March 6 reads: “Reports of civil unrest.  Road closures in affected areas could disrupt transportation links to and from Addis Ababa and the availability of goods and services within the capital.  The US Embassy continues to restrict travel for Embassy personnel to areas outside of Addis Ababa”.

The advisory also includes caution to US citizens: “Remember that the security environment in Ethiopia is fluid and can deteriorate without warning.” Similarly, the UK government issued an update on travel advice on March 9, 2018 and reminded citizens about the security conditions in relation to the SoE.

Added to the SoE and the travel warnings have triggered travelers and left local businesses, dealers, event organizers and the like to remain in limbo, as future trade-fairs might end up dry.