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  • Hana Alem

AmCham Ethiopia host a forum on the new Commercial Code



AmCham Ethiopia conducted its first Executive Breakfast Forum on Thursday, May 27, 2021, at Sheraton Hotel. This Forum is part of AmCham’s initiative to host a series of Executive Breakfast Forums that will provide a platform to discuss and reflect on a variety of Economic Reform Programs of the Government of Ethiopia and other relevant policy matters. The objective of this series is to enable, inform and connect the business community with those leaders with the most impact on the shape and policy development of the Ethiopian economy, offering them a rare opportunity to network over breakfast. The first forum was focused on exploring the major changes in the Commercial Code and its effect on the business community and on the expansion of investment.


The forum was opened with the welcoming remark by Selam Amare, AmCham Board Member and the Country Leader of General Electric (GE) for Ethiopia. Selam stated that the business community is very optimistic about the potential positive impact of the Commercial Code on the economy. She emphasized the need for proper and timely implementation of the code to realize the intended impact by providing seamless collaboration between the business community and the government agencies, by simplifying the overall process and by working towards putting Ethiopia on the global map with a much better business environment.

The guest speaker of the forum, Scott Eisner, President of the U.S.-Africa Business Center at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce delivered his message virtually and expressed AmCham U.S. solidarity with AmCham Ethiopia in playing a pivotal and harmonized role in advancing the future of U.S.-Africa trade and investment partnership. He outlined the major policy proposals that were prescribed to the US administration to improving trade relations between the two countries to benefit the business community.

The forum was moderated by Ermias Eshetu, AmCham Board President and Advisory Partner at Grant Thornton. In his opening remark, he stated that the AmCham Executive Business Forum series will cover a wide variety of subject matters to enable its members and the business community. According to Ermias, this forum is part of AmCham effort to introduce the changes in sensitive and commercially pertinent issues and policy matters that impact the overall economy and the way business is being conducted in Ethiopia.


The panelists, Attorneys Tameru Wondm Agegnehu and Mehrteab Leul, who have decades of experience in business and corporate law, along with EIC Deputy Commissioner Temesgen Tilahun provided their insight into the legal ramification of the code and the positive impact of the changes on the business community. They have discussed what the original commercial code looked like, the rationale for adopting the changes, and the intended impact of the changes. They further discussed how the enactment of this code, after more than 61 years, will change the way of doing business for the better. The panelists also asserted the change will provide ways to simplify and streamline the overall process of forming and operating businesses.


The house of people’s representatives recently approved the highly anticipated commercial code to replace the old version that has been in place for more than 61 years. The new commercial code, which is said to be aligned with the agile business process and composition, is intended to create an efficient and seamless working environment for business activities in Ethiopia and expedite business registration and licensing procedures. As a result, it is expected to facilitate speedy trade license registration and renewal service which will bring an ease of doing business. Some of the changes of the new commercial code highlighted in the panel discussion are the endorsement of non-Shareholders to be able to serve as the board of director, the addition of protection to the minority investors, the exemption of small business engaged in agriculture and forestry from registration requirement and approval of the one-person business formation.

The participants of the forum were engaged with the panelists by asking questions that are aligned with the challenges that they have faced as a business. Some of the participants reminded the policymakers and the executive body of the government that there should be a consistent and inclusive efforts in implementing the new code across the board. The concerns of some other business executives are associated with holding companies and their limited liability status. There are participants who have expressed their excitement on the ratification of the new code and the solutions that it brings and stated they are cautiously optimistic that the relevant agencies and stakeholders will generate the needed aptitude to deliver the benefits of the code efficiently and consistently.

Hana Alem, the General Manager of Amcham Ethiopia expressed her confidence that the business community comprised of U.S. companies, American investors and Ethiopian established corporates across various sectors have benefited from this timely discussion and exchange of experience towards this legislation. The fact that the forum panelists are prominent legal and investment minds who have engaged, in one or another way, in the process of drafting, deliberating, ratifying, and implementing this code and who have worked with the business community in close proximity, provides the participants the opportunity to engage in a lively discussion and sharing different perspectives and insights.

The Forum brought together Executives of leading local and international businesses, U.S. dignitaries, esteemed members of AmCham, and representatives of the Ethiopian Government together. The forum was conducted with strict adherence to COVID 19 guidelines and utilize collaborative participation. AmCham Ethiopia will continue to host a series of Monthly Executive Breakfast Forum that is in line with its vision to see a dynamic business revolution resulting in international competitiveness and prosperity in Ethiopia.

The next Executive Breakfast Forum will focus on the impact of Telecom Liberalization in Ethiopia and will be held on Thursday, June 24, 2021, at the Marriot Hotel. As the forum is designed for AmCham members, we have very limited seats for additional business executives who would like to attend. For more information about the prospect of joining AmCham as a member and participating in these forum series and networking events, you can reach AmCham at info@amchamethiopia.org.


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