Tadesse Kiros Law Office co-presented Baker McKenzie’s Africa Commercial Roadshow on Thursday 5 October 2017 at the Hilton Hotel, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The event consisted of a seminar on global developments on the trade and commercial landscape, and their implications for companies doing business in the region. Baker McKenzie’s global team of Partners shared their experience as members of a corporate law firm operating internationally and, together with Ethiopian legal experts, covered specific legal issues relating to such topics as agency and distributorship agreements, tax and transfer pricing. The seminar was attended by foreign and domestic investors such as B. Braun, Semic Engineering, Grasel Trading and Luna Export, Green Gold Plc, executives of commercial banks (Bunna International Bank and United Bank) as well as representatives from relevant government offices.

The seminar kicked off with a welcome and introductory remarks made by Mattias Hedwall, (Partner and Head of Baker McKenzie’s International Commercial & Trade Group) and Tadesse Kiros (Managing Partner of Tadesse Kiros Law Office). The panelists, Jess Mutton (Associate, Baker McKenzie, London), and Manuel Padron (Partner, Baker McKenzie, Juarez, Mexico) discussed the current geo-political landscape in relation to international commerce and trade, including the potential impact of Brexit and the policies of US President Donald Trump on global trade. The impact of Brexit was said to highly depend on specific post-Brexit arrangement to be put in place, including Free Trade Area (FTA), Customs Union and WTO agreements. Each of which is likely to increase the cost of trade over time to varying degrees and reduce the level of investments in the UK. It was noted that Ethiopian exporters using the UK as an entry point for their goods to the EU market may be affected under most of the scenarios as such goods can also be additionally subjected to EU customs duties, which is not currently the case.

On a similar note, Trump intentions of re-negotiating or leaving the NAFTA in turn would impact member states Canada and Mexico. Citing Mexico, one of the most significant exporters of goods to the US, Mr. Padron noted that withdrawal of the US from NAFTA would cost the loss of six million jobs and have a significant impact on the auto parts industry of the country.

The commercial landscape in the EU and America are currently dynamic. Presenters emphasized on the need for accommodating to the changes strategically through undertaking a cost-benefit analysis.

The seminar also covered agency and distributorship agreements with presentations made by Dr. Ulf Wauschkuhn (Partner, Munich) and Dr. Dadimos Haile, (Senior Research Advisor at Tadesse Kiros Law Office & Associate Professor of Law at Bahir Dar University). Dr. Wauschkuhn discussed the main features of EU Private International Law, EU Commercial Agency, Distributorship, Franchise and Competition Laws. He highlighted the scope of application of these laws and their implication to contractual relations with businesses established in third countries, such as Ethiopia. Dr. Dadimos discussed the basic principles of agency and recent developments in Ethiopian Law governing agency and distributorship agreements.

Nishana Gosai, Senior Executive at Baker and Mckenzie (Johannesburg) and member of the United Nation’s Sub-Committee on Transfer Pricing, shared her insights and experience on efforts at the regulation of Transfer Pricing in South Africa as well as at the regional and global levels.

Abebe Gebrehiwot, Senior Expert, Foreign Trade, Tax and Customs Policy Study at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation presented on transfer pricing (TTP) rules in Ethiopia. He addressed methods of transfer pricing and specific challenges in implementing TTP in Ethiopia. The event concluded with a networking lunch. Clients also had the opportunity to attend a one-to-one consultation and discuss specific issues in their respective areas of interest with Baker McKenzie Partners and Associates.