Ethiopian Finance Minister: Starting a New Journey for High-Quality China-Ethiopia Cooperation

The year 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of China-Ethiopia diplomatic relations. The development of long-term friendly and cooperative relations between China and Ethiopia serves the aspirations and interests of the two peoples.

The year 2020 is an extraordinary year for our two nations. Ethiopia is willing to take the opportunity of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries to continuously promote the friendly relations and actively participate in the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Under the Belt and Road Initiative, our two countries signed many economic cooperation projects and gradually implemented them. I am most impressed by the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway Economic Corridor and the Industrial Park Project along the route. It is the first electrified railway in East Africa, constructed with Chinese standards and Chinese equipment.

China is a very important cooperating partner to Ethiopia. We value and cherish Chinese history and civilization, which is the consolation to humanity as a whole. China owns splendid culture, enlightening education, united national spirit and harmonious society.

Ethiopia is an anchor country of Chinese investment in the Horn of Africa. This is because of our size, successful growth model, and a dedicated leadership for reforming and consolidating Ethiopia-China cooperation. We have been carrying out a lot of regional cooperation in the Horn of Africa as well, which is exemplified by the Addis Ababa–Djibouti Railway that we constructed in cooperation with China. It enhances connectivity between Ethiopia and different countries, and enables us to have efficient maritime gateway.

Ethiopia and China have many similarities in history and values. We have benefited a lot from the development concept and national policies, such as China’s economic restructuring, the implementation of reform and opening up policies, and the introduction of foreign investment in coastal areas through the establishment of special economic zones, while also actively developing inland and other regions. China strives to maintain balanced development across regions and enhance the international technology level and national competitiveness.

Ethiopia is experienced in conducting win-win cooperation with China. We have very good relationship at the officials level with the frequent state visits. At the same time, we have signed cooperation agreements with China in terms of production capacity cooperation, infrastructure, agricultural modernization, human capital and modern education. Numerous Chinese manufacturing companies have settled in Ethiopia. Our government has issued policies to support the construction of industrial parks.

We need to put more effort into Argo-industry, especially into the livestock sector and the meat sector. As part of our industrial park development strategy, we will work with the Chinese government to attract more Chinese companies into our industrial parks to enhance our production capacity and export.

Also, we will continue to explore a deep multi-aspect financial cooperation between Ethiopia and China. So far, Ethiopia and China have been working in terms of project finance, concession of financing, etc. Several crucial projects have acquired commercial borrowing from various Chinese financial development institutions.

President Xi Jinping has said that Ethiopia is an important partner of China in Africa. Both Ethiopia and China are major developing countries that have forged development paths in accordance with their own national characteristics. China supports Ethiopia’s efforts to maintain stability, develop economy and improve people’s livelihood, and is willing to maintain the momentum of high-level exchanges with Ethiopia, understand and support each other on issues concerning respective core interests and major concerns. China will advance bilateral cooperation of mutual benefit, help Ethiopia improve its abilities in industrialization and in earning foreign exchange through exports, and keep close communication and coordination with Ethiopia in international and regional affairs concerning climate change and the situation in the Horn of Africa. China is willing to deepen the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries by jointly building the Belt and Road Initiative and by implementing the results achieved at the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) to better benefit the people of the two countries.

Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed Ali once expressed that when he came to China, he felt like in his second hometown. China is the most reliable friend and the most cherished partner of Ethiopia. China has always respected African countries and never imposed its own will upon African countries. The African countries highly value the China-Africa cooperation principle put forward by President Xi Jinping at the FOCAC Beijing Summit and they fully agree to promote the international cooperation under the BRI and firmly support the establishment of a closer community of shared future for China and Africa under the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits.

Our Prime Minister has launched an initiative of a peaceful solidarity in the Horn of Africa for the sake of joint regional development. As early as he took office in April 2018, Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed Ali made clear his willingness to resume peace talks with Eritrea. He worked closely with Eritrean President, and quickly worked out a set of principles for a peace agreement. Within Ethiopia, our Prime Minister has also introduced important reforms. He lifted the state of emergency, expelled officials suspected of corruption and promoted women in politics. In addition, Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed Ali is committed to the regional peace process. On October 11, 2019, the Nobel Committee awarded the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize to him for the great contribution he has made.

One of Ethiopia’s major mottos is synergy. If we unite our separate capacities together into a common objective, we can achieve so much more, and lead our countries further into greatness. The Belt and Road Initiative brings together different civilizations and countries to build a community of shared future for mankind that unites in a concerted effort and stands together in times of trouble. For us, the Belt and Road Initiative enabling win-win cooperation between different countries as a brand new platform is much intertwined with Ethiopia’s concept of synergy. We believe in the potential of Belt and Road to achieve common development and shared prosperity for people of countries around the world. It shows incomparable significance.

We’d like to thank the people of China, the government of China and President Xi Jinping for this grand initiative. It has brought new dynamism to global cooperation and established a whole new platform. The Belt and Road is the new “Friends’ circle” of the 21st century. What the world needs now is more harmonious global cooperation to shape our common future.

It’s my great honor to have the interview with the Ambassador Interview Program in 2019. I am very delighted to share with Chinese friends my views on the relationship between the two countries and China’s “Belt and Road” Initiative, a world dialogue and great feat of the 21st century. I’d also like to congratulate the publication of Ambassadors’ Views on the Belt and Road Initiative both in Chinese and English written by Ms. Sun Chao. As the Finance Minister of Ethiopia, I am deeply impressed by the brilliant achievements China has made since its reform and opening up. Chinese wisdom is precious, and Chinese experience is undoubtedly valuable as a reference. Our country is willing to continue to be an important supporter and partner of the Belt and Road Initiative, closely linking our national development practices with the Initiative, and pushing the bilateral cooperation to a new level. And I want to share good news with our Chinese friends that I was awarded the best Finance Ministers in Africa.

I would like to extend warm wishes and congratulations to the Chinese people. And I believe China will succeed in curbing coronavirus outbreak!

The year 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of China-Ethiopia diplomatic relations. The development of long-term friendly and cooperative relations between China and Ethiopia serves the aspirations and interests of the two peoples. Looking back on the past, I am full of confidence in continuing to promote China-Ethiopia friendship from a new historical starting point. It is believed that with the joint efforts of both sides, China-Ethiopia relations will continue to grow. Let us work together to create a bright future.

The author is the Finance Minister of Ethiopia.

Sun Chao, author of the book Ambassadors’ Views on the Belt and Road Initiative, also contributes to the article.