Ethiopia and the Peoples Republic of China have enjoyed long historical ties based on the common values of civilization. Both are very aware of their ancient civilizations and their long histories. Diplomatic relations, however, were only established in 1970. Indeed, in November we will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of the relationship, a relationship that is based upon adherence to the properties of mutual respect, non interference in the internal affairs of each other's countries, and peaceful coexistence.
China has proven itself to be a real and dependable friend in many areas. It has played a significant role in helping the fight against poverty. The economic relations between the two countries bear witness to the level and strength of cooperation between them. And two factors that contribute largely to the consolidation of the bonds between Ethiopia and China are the frequent exchange of visits by high level officials and legislators; and secondly, the successful signing of agreements on a number of significant bilateral issues. Trade relations have shown significant progress over the last few years following the Government of China's allocation of quota and tariff free rights to African countries. Exports, mainly agricultural produce, have shown significant improvements as a result, though the balance of trade remains in favour of the PRC. The volume of trade amounted to about US $1.5 billion in 2009. Chinese investment in Ethiopia is showing significant expansion in both quality and quantity, and it currently stands at over US $ 1 billion. Chinese companies have invested in areas as diverse as cement and glass factories, manufacturing mainly in textile and pharmaceuticals, and in areas of mining. They have generated substantial job opportunities and Ethiopia has also benefited from the transfer of technology. The Chinese Government has played a remarkable role in encouraging Chinese investors to come to Ethiopia.
In addition, China has also provided an impressive development program to Ethiopia on the basis of mutual respect and understanding and on the principle of non-interference. It has provided soft and interest free loans as well as grants for project development. It has been involved in the infrastructure including roads, hydroelectric power, telecommunications, water development, and manufacturing as well as other areas. China's aid and assistance can above all be described as practical assistance to help Ethiopia escape from the poverty trap, and as particularly timely in assisting Ethiopia achieve the Millennium Development Goals. In terms of health for example, the PRC has sent numerous doctors to Ethiopia, serving in different hospitals and medical centres across the country. It has been a generous supplier of medical equipment and anti-malaria medicine in support of the effort to eradicate malaria. It is also involved in the training of traditional doctors.
China has proved a strong contributor to social sector development as well. It has provided numerous scholarships and the number has been increasing every year. It has provided generous contributions to the construction of vocational, technical and training colleges in various parts of the country, and numerous volunteer trainers and teachers at different levels. Many Ethiopian journalists have acquired training in China and there is a flourishing relationship between the Ethiopian News Agency, ENA, and the Chinese Agency, Xinauhu. Ethiopia and China have also signed an agreement on approved tourist destination status to encourage Chinese tourists to visit Ethiopia. The potential for expanding bilateral relations in this area are enormous. The capacity of the Chinese people to travel abroad is growing rapidly and is expected to reach tens of millions. Ethiopia's tourist industry will certainly benefit.
The establishment of the China-Africa Co-operation Forum (FOCAC) in 2000, and Ethiopia's co-chairmanship of the Forum (2003-2006), gave a substantial impetus to the comprehensive and sound relations and understanding that exist between Ethiopia and China. The establishment of FOCAC, of course, created an important platform for collective dialogue and the effective mechanism of practical cooperation between African states and China. Ethiopia also benefited from this. It also recognizes the need to continue to strengthen FOCAC, to build on the existing relationship of China-Africa co-operation, to expand and deepen the links. It has already demonstrated its value as an excellent example of south-south co-operation, based as it is on mutual trust and understanding as well as mutual respect and recognition of the sovereignty of both parties.
Economic development in Ethiopia relies heavily on the development of closer economic links between Ethiopia and China, as well as with other countries, including India. The relationship with China has provided countries like Ethiopia with economic development that they can really own themselves. China's policies are based on the principles of promoting mutual advantage and a serious commitment to a win-win scenario in bilateral relations. China's readiness to stay away from insistence on the concept of conditional underlines its understanding of Ethiopia's need to own its own economic development strategy. This indeed explains why relations between China and African countries including Ethiopia, have become so close and successful, as exemplified in FOCAC. And indeed why they will continue to expand and be effective.
What has been particularly impressive about the Government and Party of the Peoples Republic of China is that it has been prepared to offer so much to Ethiopia even before completing its efforts to lift its own people out of poverty. China has been a most dependable partner. And Ethiopia will not forget its generosity.