A decree signed into law by Djibouti President Ismael Omar Guelleh last week will impose restrictions on foreign companies wishing to engage in shipping and transit operations at the Red Sea port of Djibouti.
According to an article in the Ethiopian magazine ’Fortune’, the new law, which has been under consideration for several months, is likely to further fuel resentment felt by Ethiopian businessmen following the introduction of increased port tariffs earlier this year.
The decree, signed into effect on 8 July by President Guelleh, gives
exclusive rights to Djibouti nationals in stevedoring, and
requires other nationals to
introduce reciprocal laws should
their companies want to engage in shipping and transit agency
operations at the port, according to a report issued on Monday by DPA,
the German news agency.
Meanwhile, humanitarian sources in Addis Ababa have told IRIN that the
latest development is part of a
sequence of reciprocal measures
taken by the governments of both Djibouti and Ethiopia in the past few
months concerning the use of the port.
Earlier this year, the Ethiopian government proposed the introduction
dry port system that required goods imported through
Djibouti to be transferred directly for clearance at inland container
terminals. Businessmen protested against the idea on the grounds that
it would create a
state monopoly in transit business for
Ethiopian Shipping Lines, a parastatal agency, said DPA.
This was in addition to an Ethiopian government requirement for using the Maritime and Transit Service Enterprise, another parastatal company, as the shipping agent to transport goods from the port inland to Ethiopia. The government has since lifted these requirements until studies are conducted into how the system could benefit all users.
Implementation of the new law is expected to take place over a 60-day period, allowing time for commercial interests in both countries to consider the practical implications. In the meantime, aid agencies in Ethiopia would be considering the effects, if any, on current arrangements for the delivery of food and other supplies through the port, humanitarian sources in Addis Ababa told IRIN.