The Ministry of Finance has ordered the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) to stop approval of foreign currency for 38 selected import items for indefinite period of time starting as of Monday 17 October. A circular addressed to NBE today stated Letter of Credit (LC) should not opened for the items.
Items prohibited from importation include motorcycles, three-wheelers, and cars that are imported by private individuals. Electric vehicles are exempted.
Other prohibited items are processed foods, drinks (whiskey or beer and other alcoholic beverages), artificial jewellery and flowers, bottled water, fruits, carpets, hand and wall watches, human and artificial hair, perfumes, fireworks, bags, umbrellas, sea foods, cigarettes, and others.
According to the ministry, prohibitions are in place to direct available foreign currency to the most critical items, such as medicine and basic commodities.
National Bank Deputy Governor and Chief Economist Fikadu Digafe said that the products that are banned from being imported have been researched and were found to be not priority items to obtain sufficient foreign currency. The products were also identified as reasons for the proliferation of illegal money transfer.