ADDIS ABABA –The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the practice of Ethiopia’s economic diplomacy focuses on neighboring countries that have significant contributions and return to ensure sustainable and fast economic growth. Apart from the nearby economic relations, many Asian and some European countries are targets to promote cross-border trade relations.
In an exclusive interview with The Ethiopian Herald, State Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dr. Aklilu Hailemichael said that Ethiopia has praiseworthy trade relations with its neighbors besides political relations.
Evidently, Ethiopia has impressive economic relationships with Djibouti particularly in port services – which most of Ethiopia’s goods are imported via Djibouti. The two countries have also healthy relationship with Djibouti in terms of infrastructure such as road, railway and airways as well, he added.
In addition, Ethiopia is exporting energy and electricity to Djibouti. Fiber optics also come from Djibouti to Ethiopia. Water is also going from Ethiopia to Djibouti.
“As the relationship between Ethiopia and Djibouti is comprehensive and strong, it is promising to note that there will be stronger economic integration with Djibouti in the course of time. So there are so much interdependence as we have same culture, same people, same language and share some values.”
Ethiopia has also outstanding and perfect economic relationship with Sudan. The relationship we have with Sudan is fantastic like the relationship we have with Djibouti. Ethiopia exports many products to Sudan, and imports gas from Sudan, he said.
“The two countries are also connected through road infrastructure; there are also plans to connect with Sudan through Railway. All diplomatic relations, particularly with regard to the renaissance dam, is impeccable that based on understanding and fairness.
With Somalia, Ethiopia has contributed a lot particularly in the restoration of stability. After a decade, government is established in Somalia, which is getting stronger and stronger. Ethiopia has made sacrifices to bringing or changing the previous status quo of Somalia to where it is now.
Ethiopia and Somalia have created very friendly relationship .They are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel— the coming of elected government and strengthened institutions in that country. Thus, together with our friends, the African Union and the international community in general, Somalia has become stable.
Apart from political support, the two countries have also economic relations especially in exchange of commodities as well.
On the other hand, the road which is being constructed from Addis to Nairobi is a testimony for Ethiopia and Kenya relations.
According to Dr. Aklilu, 95 percent of the construction of the road from Nairobi side has been completed, and about 80 per cent has been completed from Ethiopian side. There are also intentions to connect with this country through railway in the long term. There are also efforts to export energy to Kenya. Ethio-Kenya relations are strengthened by same communities along the border who share similar culture and language.
Besides, Ethiopia has been significantly contributing in bringing reconciliation and ensuring sustainable peace in South Sudan. Like Sudan, South Sudan is a reliable friend for Ethiopia, which is a major negotiator in the framework of IGAD. Ethiopia is trying to make sure that peace and stability prevails there. Their economic relations will be strengthened in the course of time.
According to recent reports, Ethiopia plans to earn 290 million USD annually from energy export by 2019, when the Ethio-Kenya electricity transmission and distributions line is completed.
Ethiopia earns about 80 million USD of revenue annually by selling about 100 MW of energy to Sudan and 80 MW of energy to Djibouti.
Trading raw agricultural products, contraband trade and instability were mentioned among the major challenges that tested the growth of trade between countries in the region, it was stated.
BY ZELALEM GIRMA