The diplomatic relations between the two countries was established in 1966, during which Indonesia opened its Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The late Emperor Haile Selassie visited Indonesia again in 1974 and more recently our relationship has been flourishing.
The former Foreign Minister, Ato Seyoum Mesfin, visited Indonesia during the Asia-Africa Summit held in April 2005.
Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation between the two countries was signed in 2011 in New York by H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn, the then Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of FDRE and H.E. Dr. R. M Marty M. Natalegawa, Foreign Minister of the Republic of Indonesia.
Indonesian Foreign Minister H.E. Mrs. Retno L.P. Marsudi visited Ethiopia in January 2015 and signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the Establishment of a Bilateral Consultative Forum with her Ethiopian Counterpart the then Foreign Minister H.E. Dr. Tedros Adhanom.
Ethiopia established its mission in Jakarta in 2016 in order to strengthen its relations with Indonesia and ASEAN as well. Following the opening of the Embassy, the bilateral relations between the two countries have been further strengthened.
An Ethiopian delegation led by Director General of Asia and Oceania of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has visited Indonesia to attend the Indonesia-Africa Forum held in Bali in April 2018. During this visit, based on the Bilateral Consultative Forum Agreement, Foreign Ministries of the two countries carried out their first political consultation meeting at the Director-General level.
At the bilateral consultative forum the two countries discussed ways and means to further promote bilateral ties, explored opportunities to enhance mutually beneficial cooperation and exchanged views on regional and international issues of common interest. On the sideline of the Forum, EAL signed operational agreements with Garuda, its Indonesian counterpart, based on the Air Service Agreement which was signed on 21 December 2017 between the two counties.
Ethiopia participated in the first Indonesia- Africa Forum which was held in April 2018 during which time it was announced that Ethiopian Airlines would commence flights to Indonesia in 2018. Eventually, EAL launched its inaugural flight to Jakarta on 21 July 2018. Currently, EAL is flying to Jakarta three times a week and it is working to further strengthen the relationship in tourism, investment, trade and people to people ties between the two countries.
H.E. Mr. Gedu Andargachew and H.E. Mrs. Retno L.P. Marsudi have signed Letter of Intent on Cooperation in Peace Keeping Operations between the two countries on 27 September 2019, on the sidelines of the 74 UN General Assembly in New York, United States of America
Lessons for Ethiopia from Indonesia’s Strengths
Indonesia has experienced a remarkable transformation to a more participatory and more open government over the past two decades. It continues to make progress, state institutions still struggle to control endemic corruption, improve management of public services and protect citizen’s rights. Ethiopia and Indonesia have young democracies and, despite the differences in the government system in both countries, they can share experiences in building institutional democracy and human rights.
B. Industrial Sector
The industrial sector is the sector that currently contributes most to Indonesia's annual GDP growth. The two most important sub-sectors of the industry are mining and manufacturing, both being major pillars of the nation's economy since The 1970s, thus being engines of economic change and development. Infrastructure, transportation, and tourism have also a very important role in the country’s economy. There has to be more effort to attract Indonesian investors to invest in Ethiopia in the manufacturing sectors (especially, the pharmaceutical, agro-processing, and textile areas), infrastructure development such as railway and industrial, and tourism sectors. Ethiopia can also benefit from Indonesia’s experience in the industrial sector through technical assistance.
C. Trade and Investment
Trade and Investments in Indonesia is being expanded, driven by economic and social developments and population growth. Indonesia is working to become an attractive place for investment. It also set a strategy to boost its exports and reduce the import dependence through improving local manufacturing. In this respect, Ethiopia can draw significant experiences on how to boost export and substitute imports with domestic production.
Trade and Investment between the two Countries
Despite the growing relationship and political goodwill that exists between the two countries, the result achieved so far, both in trade and investment, has not corresponded with the potential that both countries have. Indonesia imports Ethiopia's oil seeds, Soya bean and leather, among others, while Ethiopia imports automotive and edible oil, among other products. The trade volume of the two countries in 2017 was $293.3 million and the trade balance is in favor of Indonesia.
The number of Indonesian investors in Ethiopia is not also significant. There are six Indonesian investments in Ethiopia including a key Indonesian company, Tal Apparel, which has established a garment manufacturing in Hawassa Industrial Park. Other three Indonesian companies of instant noodles and soap are operating in Ethiopia. More has to be done to attract more Indonesian companies to invest in Ethiopia.