Singapore high on Ethiopia

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Singaporean companies are contemplating entering into Joint Venture deals with the Metal Engineering Corporation (MeTeC) to help undertake the huge projects the corporation is currently working on. As part of this, the inaugural delegation from the Singapore Business Federation (SBF), made up of 13 companies, paid a four day visit to Ethiopia from September 4-8. They represented sectors such as:  Information Communication Technology, canned fish, wine, dairy products, welding, semiconductors, automotive equipment, filtration products, batteries, lubricants, heavy duty diesel engines and packaging.
As part of the delegation there was also a representative from the Ministry of Trade and Industry of Singapore, two secretariats and another person from the private sector.
Other companies included in the delegation represented professions in: electronics and light manufacturing, luxury retail and duty-free retail, construction equipment, pharmaceutical products and shipping and logistics, and the service industry.
The Singapore Business Federation (SBF) is the apex business chamber that champions the interests of the Singapore business community in trade, investment and industrial relations. It represents more than 18,000 companies as well as the local and foreign business chambers and key national and industry associations from business sectors that contribute significantly to Singapore’s economy.
The Singaporeans reportedly met with General Samora Yunus board chairman of MeTeC on September 7 and discussed the possibility of a Joint Venture, capacity building and technology transfer in various projects of the corporation such as mega sugar and steel projects, car and bus assembly lines and fertilizer projects that are currently under way. 
The business delegation also held a discussion with Birhane Gebrekirstos state minister of Foreign Affairs on investment policy issues and with members of the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Association (ECCSA) as well with state minister of Industry Tadesse Haile and state minister of Trade Yakob Yala and officials from the ministry of Agriculture.
However a particular interest to the business delegation was the meeting it had with Transport and Communication Minister Diriba Kuma on Singaporean companies’ involvement in seaport and dry port services development, management and logistics.
The SBF delegation had previously paid a visit to Djibouti, whose ports handle 98 percent of import and export business of Ethiopia to talk about particular ways of enhancing the services at the Djibouti’s port.     
Total trade between Singapore and Ethiopia amounted to slightly less than USD 11.18 million in 2011.
Sarah Wong representative of SBF said that as part of the efforts to boost trade ties between the two countries the Singaporean Business Federation plans to conduct promotional activities such as an Ethiopia Singapore Business Forum in Singapore to improve the knowledge of the market opportunities among the Singapore community.
Cody lee Director, Middle East and Africa, Global Business Division at SBF said companies which came with the delegation range from those who have USD 20 to 30 million annual turnover to companies that have USD 1 billion turnover and are not targeted to one particular group or company but to those who are interested in Ethiopia and want to come and visit and possibly conduct business deals.
“In this delegation we have people looking at the transport and infrastructure sector like management of logistics projects and the construction equipment business,” said Cody.
She added that the delegation came to Ethiopia to find partners to open a distribution office and possibly a service center to support the local industry.
One of the companies in the delegation is Crimson logic, one of the leading e-government companies in the world, which can help Ethiopia with the integration of government services and more efficient collection of tax revenues, Mrs. Wong added.
Mulu Solomon, President of ECCSA, said Singapore business people are very ethical and easy to do business with because they are recognized for being one of the most corruption free countries in the world. She also said they could help Ethiopia create a stronger export market by strongly promoting Ethiopian products while at the same time importing high quality products into Ethiopia.
She said that right now there is not a lot of information to report about the delegation’s visit because many companies’ do not reveal much information when they are in the process of making business deals.
Some are interesting in helping local companies with technical transfer and training, while others are focusing on import-export, or joint ventures. 
Cody surmised that compared to other countries Singapore is smaller but still has the ability to export technological knowledge.

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