Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has inaugurated the Dire Dawa Free Trade Zone. This is the country’s first free trade zone which is set to boost its economy by improving its import and export trade.

The development of free trade zones is one of the major economic initiatives set as part of Ethiopia’s 10-year perspective development plan. The Dire Dawa Industrial Park ,the dry port along with the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway station form the free trade zone.

“The Free Trade Zone we are building is one of our ways to integrate into a rapidly changing world. I have no doubt that the zone will not only facilitate trade and investment but also enhance our technological capabilities,” state-run Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) quoted Abiy Ahmed as saying.

He also affirmed that the development of free trade zones will facilitate the country’s export and import trade, as he emphasized the Ethiopian government’s commitment to construct additional free trade zones to enable competition with the global trade system.

Located some 445 km east of the capital Addis Ababa, the Dire Dawa was selected to be the first free trade zone due to its proximity to ports, market potential and huge cargo gravity as well as suitability for multimodal transport and logistics operation according to the Ethiopian government

Ethiopia’s Minister of Transport and Logistics Dagmawit Moges stressed that the East African country has been implementing several strategies to enhance its import and export trade.

According to the Ethiopian government, the Dire Dawa Free Trade Zone is expected to reduce logistics time and cost, improve efficiency and trade competitiveness, attract more FDI, boost urbanization and industrialization, and eventually boost the country’s economy.

This Free Trade Zone is aligned with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and its quest in realizing regional integration that the country requires at this time. Officials from the government also noted that additional Free Trade and Special Economic Zones will also be established in other parts of the country too in due course.

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