1. Historical background
The Diplomatic relation between Ethiopia and Malaysia was established in 1965, Malaysia established its Embassy in Ethiopia in the same year. It was the second mission that Malaysia had established in Africa next to Egypt.
The Diplomatic relations between the two countries became delicate during the Derg Regime and as a result of which Malaysia has closed its Embassy in 1982.
Since the establishment of the FDRE government, both countries have been keen to reinforce the overall relations. In this connection, higher officials and delegations have started making various visits starting from the 1990s. Malaysian delegation led by the special envoy of the Malaysian Prime Minister, Dr.Mahattir Mohammed, has visited Ethiopia in November 1997. The late Prime Minister of Ethiopian H.E Meles Zenawi and his delegation visited Malaysia in October 1998. During this visit, the two countries have signed treaties on Economic, Scientific, Technical Cultural, Investment and Trade. The delegation has also included a business team aimed at strengthening relations between the private sectors of the two countries.
The commencement of direct flight by Ethiopian Airlines to Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia is expected to play a major role in the promotion of trade and investment. It is also anticipated that it will create a good opportunity to strengthen the people to people relation between to the countries.
A delegation led by Malaysian Primary Industry Minister H.E. Mrs. Tersa Kok visited Ethiopia from October 1-4/2019 and met with H.E. Misganu Arega (ambassador), State Minister for the Ministry of Trade and Industry and other officials, and discussed how to strengthen the trade and investment between the two countries. The delegation has also commenced a seminar on palm oil with stockholders.
Trade between the two countries is showing a progressive trend in recent years. In 2017 Ethiopia has imported products worth 340,705,770.51 USD and exported items worth 723,616.49 USD. Ethiopia exports leather and leather products, raw meat and vegetable products to Malaysia and imports sugar, cotton, fatty acid, vegetable oil, paper, and paper products, Medical equipment, soap, and Detergent.
Currently, there are six investors from Malaysia registered by the Ethiopian Investment Commission.
3. Lessons for Ethiopia from Malaysia’s strength
Import and Export licensing
Not all goods, whether imported or exported, require a license. However, having a robust understanding of Malaysia’s license schemes for imported and exported goods will save traders from being rejected by custom officials.
Malaysia uses privatized single digital window for all import and export regulations called DAGANG NET.
Since Ethiopia is on the way to privatize some State Owned Enterprises, modernizing the Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority should be taken into consideration in order to provide quality service and investment attraction. Digital and one window service is also Malaysia’s best experience that Ethiopia could share.
Ethiopia is strengthening its diplomatic and economic relations with most of the Asian countries, but the overall relationship of Ethiopia and Malaysia are not at the desired level. The enhancement of the economic relationship between the two countries can play their own role in achieving Ethiopia’s Growth and Transformation Plan. Promoting Ethiopian export products to Malaysia, organizing the Business to Business (B2B) forum and sharing experiences, helps to strengthen the economic relations with Malaysia.