By Yi Whan-woo
The Korea-Africa Foundation (KAF), jointly with the Embassy of Ethiopia in Korea and Korea International Trade Association (KITA), hosted a business forum in Seoul last week.
The Ethiopia-Korea Business Forum took place on the occasion of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali’s visit to Seoul from Aug. 25 to 27.
The forum on Aug. 27 introduced investment and business opportunities in Ethiopia, in line with the purpose of the KAF. Launched in June 2018 under the wing of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it promotes partnerships between Korea and Africa in politics, economy, culture and academia among others.
“Ethiopia has many features that make it attractive to foreign investment,” Prime Minister Abiy said in his opening speech at Lotte Hotel in downtown Seoul. He referred to Ethiopia’s average economic growth of roughly 10 percent every year, incentives offered to international investors and privatization of state-owned companies.
“The reform of business climate currently being implemented involves opening up sectors that were previously closed to foreign investors,” he said. “We hope to create more opportunities for attracting foreign direct investment, especially from our friendly country — Korea.”
He underscored that Korean investment is already underway in various areas, including textiles, machinery, plastics, healthcare and services.
“It is our hope that, through this reform, Korean investment in Ethiopia will only increase and expand its broad areas of engagement,” he said.
KAF President Choi Yeon-ho said the two countries should expand economic cooperation based on their long-standing partnership dating back to the 1950-53 Korean War when Ethiopia sent successive battalions as part of the U.N. forces.
“In this regard, I believe the visit of His Excellency Abiy Ahmed Ali … and this business forum organized on the occasion of the visit of His Excellency will serve as an important opportunity to discuss further economic and business cooperation between Korea and Ethiopia,” Choi said. He called the forum “a venue where the possibility of a substantial cooperation” is possible, by looking into Ethiopia’s investment opportunities and environment and sharing the know-how to enter into the local market.
The forum was divided into two sessions. The first session discussed economic outlook and investment in Ethiopia while the second session discussed business partnerships.