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The 17th Addis Chamber International Trade Fair, one of the largest annual events held in Addis Ababa, opened on Thursday February 21.

The trade fair organized by the Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Association (AACCSA) with a motto “Public Private Consultations for Development” embraced more international participants, than previous fairs. 
The trade fair involved 313 companies including 213 companies from 27 countries according to Getachew Regassa Secretary General of AACCSA. The participating companies are importers, exporters, manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and service providers.
Gashaw Abate, Managing Director of the newly instituted Trade and Investment Promotion Department of AACCSA, said the 17th Addis Chamber International Trade Fair is much better than previous fairs as it embraces more foreign companies with goods and services of higher value. “The participation, especially of foreign companies, is pretty high both in quantity and quality,” he told Capital. 
The event seems calmer for participants as the goods and services exhibited are of higher value, according to Gashaw. This is what the AACCSA wants, he claims.  “The association doesn’t want its fairs and exhibitions to be known for their entertainment,” he told Capital. “We prefer to see a couple of investors, and a dozen of entrepreneurs and trade agents than tens of thousands of youths who come more for the entertaining programs.”
According to Gashaw, this year’s participants of the trade fair focused more on exhibiting machineries and other products that would highly contribute to the development of the country’s economy, while most participants of the previous exhibitions brought consumer goods including candies and biscuits. “I am happy to see the companies have understood Ethiopia’s need and brought construction materials, grinders, coffee processing equipment, and other similar machineries,” he told Capital. “Local companies including, Mesfin Engineering, Equatorial Business Group, My Wish Enterprise, Ries Engineering, and IVECO also brought goods and services of high standard and  value too.”
“The uniqueness of the event is due to the fact that previously, foreign companies that took part were from Egypt, Sudan, India and China only.   But this year the number of companies participating from abroad has risen.” About 60 Italian and 29 Turkish companies are exhibiting their products and services. Last year only 157 foreign companies have participated in the event as compared to this year’s 213.
Gashaw explained that many companies including international companies’ application to participate in the event has been turned down, as the number of registered exhibitors exceeded the association’s plan and preparation. “We only registered what we could handle.”
Ayalew Zegeye, President of the AACCSA acknowledged that Ethiopia’s investment incentives are considered as one of the most generous compared with other countries. “The privileges given to local and foreign investors are so much encouraging,” he said at the opening ceremony held at the Sebastopol Cinema Hall inside the Addis Ababa Exhibition Center. 
Ayalew believes that for the last 17 years, the significance of trade fairs and exhibitions has been constantly improving.  He attributes the increasing number of foreign companies to the growing Ethiopian market. He said such business interactions encourage business to business linkages and transfer of knowhow and technology.
Gashaw on his part said the AACCSA also has played a pivotal role to bring these international companies by regularly advocating the country’s developmental activities and its bright future.
The 17th Addis Chamber International Trade Fair will stay open for visitors till February 27.