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Special advisor to Ethiopian Prime Minister calls for South Korean investment in Ethiopia

SEOUL, May 3 (Yonhap) — Ethiopia has an attractive package of incentives for foreign investors including a 10-year tax holiday under its ambitious growth plan, a senior Ethiopian official said Tuesday, stressing that the African state aims to become the “next manufacturing hub.”
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During an interview with Yonhap News Agency, Arkebe Oqubay Metiku, special advisor to Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, urged South Korea to invest more in the country, noting that the skilled, yet cheap workforce, low energy costs and free land for factories make Ethiopia an ideal investment destination.

“Ethiopia is providing (investors) with the most attractive package, because Ethiopia is now aiming to be the next manufacturing hub,” he said. “For that, the government has a very clear policy and very clear vision.

Arkebe Oqubay Metiku (R), special advisor to Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, shakes hands with Lee Tae-ho (L), deputy minister for economic affairs at South Korea’s Foreign Ministry before their talks at the ministry building on May 3, 2016. (Yonhap) Arkebe Oqubay Metiku (R), special advisor to Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, shakes hands with Lee Tae-ho (L), deputy minister for economic affairs at South Korea’s Foreign Ministry before their talks at the ministry building on May 3, 2016. (Yonhap)

Arkebe came here on Monday for a four-day visit that is focused wholly on bolstering business ties with South Korea, a country which he said Ethiopia now views as a crucial development model.

Explaining Ethiopia’s 10-year growth plan, Arkebe highlighted his country’s eagerness to attract manufacturers from around the world, particularly those specializing in textile, footwear and other labor-intensive industries where Ethiopia can cash in on its rich human resources. Ethiopia has a population of nearly 100 million.

The country’s growth plan is called “Vision 2025.” Under the initiative, Ethiopia seeks to see its gross domestic product grow by 11 percent each year and the manufacturing sector by 25 percent annually over the next decade.

“Now, the country has put the manufacturing as an immediate priority, which is export-oriented and similar to South Korea in the 1960s,” he said, describing the growth plan as a “challenging yet possible” initiative.

The African nation has been seeking to establish a favorable business environment for foreigners. It has provided land for foreign manufacturers for free, allowed them to import machinery on a tax-free basis and eased visa rules for them. Above all, the labor cost is cheap — below US$100 per month per worker, Arkebe explained.

Casting the ties between South Korea and Ethiopia as “long historical relations bound by blood and sacrifice,” he stressed that now is the right time for both countries to elevate the relationship “to a higher level.” Ethiopia is one of the countries that fought under the U.N. banner in support of South Korea during the 1950-53 Korean War.

“The best way to build this (better bilateral relationship) is to promote investment,” he said. “South Korean companies want to invest overseas and they have the technology and the manufacturing capability. Ethiopia wants this investment.”

sshluck@yna.co.kr

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