10/07/08 (B455) REUTERS L’Ethiopie dénonce les nouveaux tarifs décidés par Djibouti pour le traitement des opérations portuaires. (A l’occasion d’une visite que le Ministre du Commerce éthiopien a effectué à Djibouti) – Ethiopia worried about Djibouti port tariff plan (En Anglais – Info lecteur)

Land-locked Ethiopia sent its top trade official to Djibouti on Wednesday after the Red Sea state said it would introduce a new tariff on port services.

An Ethiopian government source said Trade and Industry Minister Girma Birru was dispatched after Djibouti unveiled plans to introduce the tariff with effect from August 15.

“The imposition of a new tariff without prior consultation would be unfair and difficult to accept,” the source said, without giving details of the new tariff.

“The impact would hurt Ethiopia, which is suffering from inflation and rising global food and oil prices.”

Djiboutian officials could not immediately be contacted.

The country’s port is Ethiopia’s main gateway for imports and exports after it lost the Red Sea ports of Assab and Masawa when Eritrea won its independence from Ethiopia in 1991.

Ethiopian officials say Djibouti earns about $300 million a year for handling some 4.6 million tonnes of Ethiopian goods.

The officials say the government and business leaders in Addis Ababa are also concerned about Djiboutian plans to cut to eight days from 15 the period that Ethiopian goods can be stored at the port for free.