Ethiopia and China enjoy longstanding and historic relations. The two countries established diplomatic ties in 1970. Ethiopia is represented in China by an Embassy in Beijing and three Consulate General offices in Guangzhou, Chongqing and Shanghai; whereas the People’s Republic of China is represented by an Embassy, a Permanent Mission to the AU in Addis Ababa.
The diplomatic relations between the two countries has significantly strengthened during the past 27 years. Since May 2017 the relations has elevated to a higher level of Comprehensive Strategic Cooperative Partnership (CSCP) reflecting the strong the bond that has been established between the two countries in political, diplomatic, business, party-to-party, people-to-people dimensions.
Moreover, 2020 is the year that the two countries are marking the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations which are commemorating by highlighting the remarkable achievements made so far in terms of bilateral cooperation across a wide range of sectors and fields gave Comprehensive nature of the strategic partnership between the two countries. The Anniversary is also hoped to open the new chapter in the relations between the two countries.
The deep-rooted nature of Ethiopia and China relations is characterized by frequent high-level visits to both sides. Emperor Haileselassie (1971), the Late Prime Minister H.E. Mr. MeleseZenawi (1995,2004,2011), H.E. President Dr. MulatuTeshome (2004,2014,2017), Former Prime Minister H.E. Mr. Hailemariam Dessalegn (2011,2014,2015,2017), Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Mr. DemekeMekonnen (2014,2017), Prime Minister H.E Dr. ABiy Ahmed (2018,2019) and by many other Ethiopian Ministers visited the People’s Republic of China at various times on different occasions. On the Chinese side: Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister H.E. Mr. Chen Qichen (1994), President H.E. Mr. Jiang Zemin (1996), Premier of the State Council H.E. Mr. WenJiabao (2003), Vice Premier H.E. Mrs. Liu Yandong (2013), Premier H.E. Mr. Li Keqiang (2014), vice President H.E Mr. Li Yuan–Chao (2016), State Councilor H.E Mr. Yang Jiechi (2017), Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), H.E. Mr. Li Zhanshu (2018), State Councilor and Foreign Minister H.E Wang Yi (2019) and many other Ministers visited Ethiopia at various occasions.
Close to 60 bilateral agreements and MOU’s have been signed between the two countries including Agreement for Economic and Technological Cooperation (1971, 1988 and 2002), Trade Agreement (1971,1976), Trade Protocol (1984, 1986, and 1988); Agreement for Trade, Economic and Technological Cooperation (1996), agreement for Mutual Promotion and Protection of Investment (1988), Agreement on the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income (2009), MOU on Air service (2013), Agreement on Mutual Visa Exemption for the Holders of Diplomatic and Service Passports (2014), MOU between the Ministry of Defense of the FDRE and the Ministry of Defense of China (2016), MOU on Cooperation within The framework of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative (2018).
The Ethiopian Airlines were the only and first airline that connected Africa with China as early as 1973. The Airline flies to five cities of China such as Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Chengdu, Hongkong, and Shenzhen are also expected to be added to the destination list soon.
1. Ethio-China Cooperation
Ethiopia and China cooperation have made major strides in the past decades. Ethiopia and China are reliable partners and China has played an important role in helping to boost Ethiopia's economic development.
A. Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) and One Belt One Road Initiative (OBOR)
This is the Development Cooperation between China and Africa and contributing a lot in industrialization, infrastructure development, boosting of investments, etc in Africa. Ethiopia is an active participant and a prime beneficiary of FOCAC, which has enabled it to boosting industrialization, infrastructural and agricultural development and poverty alleviation among other things. Moreover, Ethiopia is considered by China as a pilot country for cooperation in Production Capacity, whose three policy pillars include poverty eradication, industrialization and regional connectivity.
OBOR (BRI) is a massive strategic infrastructure project proposed to be financed mainly by the government of China. The initiative mainly focuses on connectivity and cooperation between the Eurasian countries and the People’s Republic of China through the land-based Silk Road Economic Belt and the ocean-going Maritime Silk Road. The cooperation includes Policy Coordination, Infrastructure connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration, support in investments, cooperation in People-to-People bond like culture and developing tourism facilities etc.
China is the main and reliable source of finance (capital/loan/grant) for Ethiopia’s multifaceted developmental activities mainly in infrastructural developments, industrialization, agriculture, poverty alleviation, capacity building and so forth. Ethiopia, is, therefore, very grateful for China’s continued support and solidarity as a dependable partner.
Chinese companies are major contractors for many development projects in Ethiopia, including industrial parks, wind powers, expressways, urban light rails, and cross-border electric rail links. The Ethiopia-Djibouti standard gauge and electrified railway, the 12Km Sheger-Beautify project, the Addis Ababa light railway, the Addis-Adama toll gate express highway, the Addis Ababa ring road, and the industrial Park constructions symbolize the Comprehensive Strategic Cooperative Partnership between Ethiopia and China. Such mega projects have been implemented under the framework of BRI and FOCAC platforms.
China is Ethiopia's largest source of Foreign Direct Investment, FDI. The investment flow has increased by leaps and bounds over the past two decades or so. According to the information obtained from the Ethiopian Investment Commission as of May 2020, out of more than 1500 Chinese investment registered in Ethiopia, about 1000 are at the operational level with registered capital of 43.1 billion Ethiopian Birr (approximately 1.3 billion USD). It implies that Chines FDI has played a great role in accelerating the country’s developmental activities.
China is Ethiopia’s leading trade partner. The trade volume of trade between the two countries has increased over the past two decades or so. In 2018, Ethiopia exports value of 324,783,258.42 USD various export products to China and imports value of 4,267,700,820.74 USD from China.
China, as a country of the huge population with a big market, Ethiopia should focus on a maximum utilization of the Chinese market by acquiring special preference access for its industrial and agricultural products. Particularly, since the Chinese People are developing coffee consumption habits, Ethiopia should make the necessary research and come up with special branded Ethiopian coffee that may suit the flavor of the Chinese new generation. The smooth economic and political cooperation that exists between the two governments is an opportunity to achieve these.