Photo: Matej Hudovernik/Shutterstock.com
Ethiopia expected to join WTO in 2015
Addis Ababa, July 10, 2013
Ethiopia expects to join the World Trade Organisation in 2015 without heeding to demands that it liberalises its state-run banking and telecoms sectors, the Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.
The Horn of Africa nation applied to join the body in 2003, but its hopes for membership had hinged on Addis Ababa opening those areas to international competition.
U.S. officials have publicly asked the country to liberalise both sectors, but Ethiopia says they are "sensitive areas" whose liberalisation may harm national interests.
Its chances, however, were given a lifeline last year when the WTO lowered the bar for the world's least developed countries to join the global trading club by agreeing new membership standards.
The new rules allow members to open fewer sectors, liberalise fewer types of transactions, and only open up their markets as their economies develop.
"Ethiopia's accession to the WTO is expected to be finalised in the third quarter of 2015," a Foreign Ministry statement said, quoting Lesanework Zerfu, head of the Trade Ministry's multilateral trade relations department.
Addis Ababa, with its strongly state-interventionist policies, has one of the world's fastest-growing economies. The government expects growth of 10 percent in the fiscal year ending next month, boosted by rising agricultural output and huge public spending.
Industry, however, accounts for only about 10 percent of gross domestic product, while major sectors of the economy such as banking and telecoms remain in state hands.
With an 85 million-strong population - making it Africa's second-most populous - Ethiopia offers an attractive market with cheap labour for foreign investors.
Speaking at a business forum in the Ethiopian capital last month, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said the telecom sector generated around 6 billion birr ($321 million) a year, which the government uses for railway projects.
Ethiopia plans to build 5,000 km of railway lines by 2020.
"Therefore, the telecoms sector will remain in government hands for years to come," Hailemariam said. – Reuters
More INTERNATIONAL NEWS Stories
- Passports requiring probe were on Malaysia flight
- 40 killed in Yemen as Houthi fighters near capital
- Vietnam finds object in sea; search on
- $5bn poll spend to boost India economy
- Libya authorises use of force against Korean tanker
- Ukraine PM says he will go to US to discuss crisis
- Syrian journalist killed covering fighting
- Malaysian jet may have turned back before vanishing
- No sign of missing plane; Malaysia probes false passports
- Two Europeans not on board 'missing' Malaysian jet
- China draws red line on North Korea
- Saudi sentences three to death for 2003 bombing
- First bitcoin machine opens in UK
- US sanctions will boomerang, warns Russia
- China plans $50bn bank to fund projects
- Sony to sell Tokyo 'birthplace'
- Obama orders sanctions over Russian moves
- Crimea parliament votes to join Russia
- Arab League to be revamped
- 'Upskirting' is legal: Massachusetts court
- Singapore probes 'unnatural' death of bitcoin trader
- Onus on world powers for Syria war crimes: UN
- US, Russia set for talks on Ukraine crisis
- Brent oil drops below $109
- Services outshine manufacturing, pushing up jobs
- Bitcoin bank shut down after hacker attack
- India to kick off world's biggest poll on April 7
- China signals focus on reforms
- Hundreds ready for bitcoin exchange class action
- Space taxi, Jupiter mission in Obama budget