The Ministry of Finance has revised the ban on some imported products to accommodate the businesses that sell their products and services in Ethiopia in foreign currency.
In mid October, the National Bank of Ethiopia indefinitely banned commercial banks from providing foreign currencies for importers of 38 different products which authorities deemed ‘nonessentials’.
In letter written to the central bank, the Ministry of Finance said it has made adjustments on the list of items banned from getting foreign exchange for import.
The adjustment is made to products listed under tariff codes 9903 and 9104 including household and office furniture manufacturing equipment, inputs and products.
The ban has been lifted for businesses with a license to import and sell their products and services in foreign currency, said the ministry of finance.
However, these businesses including major international hotels, duty free shops and supermarkets can import the products using their own forex, the Ministry added.
The latest adjustment was made in the same week Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed defended government’s decision to ban exporting 39 different products to Ethiopia, saying it will give a chance for locally produced products.
Ethiopia spends more than 18 billion US dollars on at least 6000 imported goods annually. The government, However, put the ban on only 38 of the commodities.
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Speaking to MPs Tuesday, Abiy said the country spent over one Billion US Dollars to import these products, “the same amount we spent on fertilizer.”
“The decision was made to give domestic products a chance as the commodities are vulnerable to the black market and are not essential commodities,” the PM said.
“As a country, we gain more than we lose through the decision,” he said, “The prohibition could be improved in the future.”