International Laws

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(Photo: Anteneh Aklilu)

Ethiopia began economic reform and liberalizing the economy to attract huge investment. Following this, the country is working on revising various laws including investment and commercial law. Emmanuel Gaillard, prominent practicing attorney, in a leading authority on international commercial arbitration and a law professor was here in Addis to advise the Ethiopian government.
Gaillard is Partner in Shearman & Sterling LLP, Head of the International Arbitration Group where he has represented major corporations, States and State-owned entities in over 250 international arbitration cases. He has acted as sole arbitrator, party appointed arbitrator or Chairman in more than 50 international arbitrations.
Prof. Gillard advised Ethiopia to sign the the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, commonly known as the New York Convention, as it gives investors’ confidence to come and invest in Ethiopia as such conventions is taking as a symbols of commitment. Capital met with Prof. Gillard to share his view.

Capital: What is the purpose of your visit?
Emmanuel Gaillard: The purpose of my visit is to see how the government and state owned entity are doing and help them to develop and to give them advise about dealing with foreign entities and governments.

Capital: Did you meet government officials? And what was your theme of your discussion?
Emmanuel Gaillard: I met a few officials from the Ministry of Finance and Investment Commission. Ethiopia wants to make it easier for foreigners to invest so we are trying to come up with better laws to encourage this. Sherman and Sterling represents financing, development, contracts, acquisitions, investment. I work on resolving conflict and disputes. I want to show people it’s better to be careful and handle conflict in the early stages rather than waiting until arbitration.

Capital: What needs to be improved with regard to commercial law?
Emmanuel Gaillard: I think, the main steps in commercial treaties are the ratification of New York Convention. This was signed in 1958 and made standards for enforcement of arbitrary laws and, by ratifying this convention, Ethiopia would show that it is following the general rule of law. The convention is binding in 161 countries in the world and Ethiopia is one of the few countries with big economies which has not signed the convention. This would be great PR for the country.

Capital: So, you mean that it doesn’t affect Ethiopia’s attracting foreign investment? What does it mean to investors?
Emmanuel Gaillard: I mean, you are doing that in 1965 civil code in the procedure that is already said in The New York convention. So you don’t ratify the New York convention if you have the same rules in the 1965 code of civil procedure. However, ratifying the convention will be the signal to show the rest of the world that we are open for doing international commerce. Symbols are important. I know that you are on an economic reform that is the major trend in the country, and should go together with the rule of law. Signing international investment treaties shows the bigger commitment for investment as it means I will protect your investor and you protect my investor in bi-lateral or multi-lateral investment treaties.
I think it is too bad not to do it, because it just a simple thing and helps in creating a climate of confidence with investors. If you create confidence in the country, it will bring more foreign partners and investors.

Capital; Ethiopia is on the way to join the World Trade organization (WTO), what should we do in advance with regards to various laws?
Emmanuel Gaillard: Training and awareness. Such as doing the investment arbitration, commercial laws/ arbitration, anti- corruption rules all that are needed to create an environment which is favorable to trade, and do investment in the country. The notion that the country has in to play a bigger role in increasing trade and investment. In addition to symbols which is vital for investors. The symbols are like, Ethiopia is Member of WTO, and Ethiopia is signatory of New York convention etc shows that the country cares for the investors.

Capital: What do you think of the country’s civil code?
Emmanuel Gaillard: I am confident in Ethiopian laws, they are good even though they were made in the 1960’s, you have excellent rules, and there is no need to change substantively publicizing it is the areas where you should do more. You have a lot of assets, economic, cultural and historical but more needs to be done to attract investors.

Capital: You said arbitration is a key to development, how do you correlate this?
Emmanuel Gaillard: A contract is worth nothing if you don’t have judges, who implement it correctly, If you are an investor and a good contract it means nothing without having good judges whom both parties trust to be neutral.