Ethio-Australia Relations

Historical Background

Ethiopia’s friendship with Australia dates back to 1965. At the beginning of the relationship Australian Embassy in Nairobi was accredited to Ethiopia and the Ethiopian Embassy in Tokyo was accredited to Australia. Then Australia opened its Embassy in Addis Ababa in 1984 which was later closed after three years.

In 2011, Australia re-opened its embassy in Addis Ababa and Ethiopia had honorary consulate in Melbourne until the Ethiopian Embassy in Canberra was opened in 2013, which became an important gateway to the significant number of Ethiopian Diaspora in Australia.

Higher official visits have been dominated by the Australian side. Australian Foreign Ministers have paid a visit to Ethiopia in different occasions: in 1993 (H.E. Gareth Evans), 2009 (H.E. Stephen Smith), 2012 (Hon. Bob Carr) and in 2013 (Kevin Rudd). Moreover, the Australian Governor-General Hon. Ms. Quentine Bryce, Ac paid a visit to Ethiopia country during March 26-28/ 2009 and the visit made by Mr. Andrew Collins, assistant secretary of the African Branch at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in November 2019 is the most recent one.  From Ethiopian side in 1999 delegation from House of people’s representative and the house of Federation, in 2013 officials from Ministry of education and Ministry of Mines. Besides, Parliamentary delegation exchanges have taken place in 1996 by the Australian side and in 2016 by the Ethiopian side. 

Bilateral Relations

The two countries have similar stances on several multilateral issues such as international security and climate change. Moreover, Australia has supported Ethiopia’s candidacy for the non-permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council.

Economic relations between Ethiopia and Australia


 A. Trade

In 2017 Ethiopia has imported value of 19,365,821.53 USD products from Australia while exporting a value of 22,637,827.69 USD products to Australia. Coffee, flowers, textiles, fruits, beer, grains, and bags are the major export items while different kinds of tubes, wood, electric machinery, and spare parts, food processing machinery and telecommunication equipment are the major import items. All in all, the trade relationship between the two countries is increasing from time to time and the trade balance favors Ethiopia.

  B. Investment

Between the years 1992-2017 about 35 Australian projects have been registered, whereby 10 of them started operation, invested 123.3 million birrs and created permanent job opportunities for 76 people and temporary job opportunities for 431 people. The investment projects are on real estate, agriculture, consultancy, health, and mining.

A mining company called Kefi Minerals which is a joint venture among UK and Australian investors with the government of Ethiopia is the largest Australian investment in our country; and is expected to start operation soon. The company is expected to create employment opportunities for 1000 people and be an exemplary mining project for investors in the sector, particularly from Australia. 

On 27 November 2017 Ethio- Australia/New Zealand Business Forum was held in Addis Ababa where 27 Australia/New Zealand companies working on different sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture and tourism were a part of. The business the delegation met with Ethiopian private sectors and discussed potential partnership areas.


 C. Tourism

Despite the fact that Australia is a country that has a significant potential for tourist outflow, the number of tourists from Australia to Ethiopia is not that significant. Making the situation worse, the travel advisory the Australian government has been publishing on Ethiopia particularly after the declaration of the state of emergency has hurt the tourist flow from Australia to Ethiopia.  In 2017, Ethiopia has hosted 8,353 Australian tourists (Ministry of Culture and Tourism).


Social and Cultural Relations


 A. Education and Training

Australian universities are known for their quality education. Our embassy in Canberra has been working on twining Australian and Ethiopian universities.  Also, Addis Ababa University is a member of the Australia-Africa Universities Network. Therefore, education is an area by which it has not been fully utilized between the bilateral cooperation between the two countries. Moreover, Australia provided scholarships and training for Ethiopian students and professionals. According to the Embassy in Addis Ababa, since 2011, 171 Ethiopians have been supported through the Australia Awards program. Key sectors include agriculture, education, environment, governance, health, mining, water, and sanitation. In 2015-17, twelve short-term awards were offered to Ethiopians.


 B. Humanitarian Support

 Australia supports humanitarian operations globally through agencies including the World Food Program, International Committee of the Red Cross, the UNHCR, and UNOCHA.

Additionally, through the Australia NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP), Australia contributed a total of $2.46m in 2016-17. Australian NGOs are currently implementing 15 community projects focused on food security, disability, child protection, education, health, WASH, and early childhood development.

Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, which was founded by an Australian obstetrician and gynecologist called Elinor Catherine Hamlin and her husband, Dr. Reginald Hamlin who is a New Zealander is one of the organizations with Australian descent working in our country. It is the world's only medical Center dedicated exclusively to providing free obstetric fistula repair surgery to poor women suffering from childbirth injuries. The couple has also co-founded an associated non-profit organization, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia.  

In addition, in 2017-18, twelve small scale projects totaling AUD 502,000 were supported under the Direct Aid Program (DAP) in Ethiopia.

  Agreements Signed between Ethiopia and Australia

MOU on Air service has been signed in December 2013.  To this, the Australian Government has been repeatedly requesting for Ethiopian Airlines to have a direct flight to Australia. Taking into consideration the number of Ethiopian Diaspora in the country, the tourist and investment flow we are aiming to increase and strengthening of the trade relationship between the two countries, having a direct flight will have significant returns.

Additionally, MOU on Development Cooperation and Bilateral Cooperation Agreement has been signed in May 2012 and January 2013, respectively. 

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