BACK

Ethiopia’s first year in Pakistan: A journey of friendship and growth

Jem­al Beker Abdula
Tuesday, Aug 29, 2023

As the sun rises on this momentous day, we mark the first anniversary of the Embassy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE) in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. With immense pride and gratitude, I share my reflections on a year that has been nothing short of extraordinary - a year of cultural discovery, economic promise, and an unbreakable bond of friendship and solidarity.

On August 29, 2023, I had the honor of presenting my credentials to Dr. Arif Alvi, President of the Islamic Republic as an Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the FDRE to Pakistan. His warm embrace of our embassy was embodied in his words: “We, Pakistan, welcome you with open-minded, open-hearted, and open-door policies.” These words set the tone for the journey that followed, and I have witnessed the embodiment of this spirit in every engagement with Pakistani government officials, politicians, business community, dedicated civil society members, and above all, the wonderful people who have shown boundless affection not just to me, but to the entire Ethiopian nation. Allow me to encapsulate this remarkable year. From the moment I assumed the role of Ambassador to Pakistan, my foremost priority was to build the image of Ethiopia in this country. With unwavering dedication, I directed my efforts towards enlightening the Pakistani public, business leaders, media, and civil society about the vast potential for business, trade, and investment within the FDRE.

Yet, I cannot emphasize enough the pivotal role played by Pakistani media and civil society. These dynamic forces have stood at the forefront, working to foster the Ethiopia-Pakistan friendship. Through an array of programs and events, they have illuminated the vast opportunities that lie in collaborative ventures between our two nations. Economic cooperation emerged as a vital avenue of exploration, for bilateral trade had been stood at a mere 78 million US dollars due to the lack of robust institutional ties. Identifying this challenge, I endeavored to bridge the gap by advocating for the establishment of strong institutional linkages.

In February 2022, we celebrated a milestone as both nations signed a groundbreaking trade agreement, laying the foundation for the expansion of commercial and business relations. In the following month, a historic delegation of 75 Pakistani businessmen embarked on a transformative journey to Addis Ababa. This marked a watershed moment as the realms of business, trade, and investment were explored like never before.

My heart swells with gratitude for the Pakistani business community, whose resounding response not only made this delegation a resounding success but also resulted in the signing of pivotal Memorandums of Understanding in the realm of trade and investment. The momentum was perpetuated as a 50-member high-level delegation from Ethiopia graced Pakistan’s shores, arriving on the maiden flight of Ethiopian Airlines. The gracious reception by the Sindh Chief Minister’s Cabinet, in the middle of night, exemplified the sincere warmth and brotherhood between our two nations. Under the guidance of H.E. Ambassador Misganu Arega, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, these collaborative efforts culminated in the signing of multiple Memorandums of Understanding in fields spanning trade, science, and technology.

Subsequently, distinguished delegations from the health and textile sectors participated in various expos and exhibitions in Pakistan. The business chambers of Pakistan emerged as pivotal players in fostering closer ties, organizing the “Ethio-Pakistan Business Forum” across key cities. This platform has magnificently facilitated a tighter integration of our business communities. In fostering people-to-people connections, the focus laid on the launch of Ethiopian Airlines operations in Pakistan. Beyond mere travel, this marked a gateway not only to Ethiopia but to the entire African continent. Pakistani universities extended a hearty welcome, planning to start a special quota for Ethiopian students, thus furthering the academic partnership.

In retrospection, I feel compelled to touch upon the avenues that remain unexplored. The economic landscape beckons the Pakistani business community to consider Ethiopia as a novel economic destination - a gateway to the vast expanse of Africa. Ethiopia’s demand for pharmaceutical, surgical, sports equipment, and construction materials perfectly aligns with Pakistan’s expertise, while in return, Ethiopia’s agricultural treasures, such as coffee, tea, pulses, oilseeds, and vegetables, beckon Pakistan. Ethiopia’s remarkable journey towards a double-digit economy is a testament to the transformative power of reforms initiated in 2018. With focused efforts to address bottlenecks in FDI, trade, and business services, progress is evident across pivotal sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, mining, tourism, and ICT.

A shared commitment to combat climate change has united our nations. Ethiopia’s Green Legacy Initiative, conceived by Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed, stands as a beacon of hope and launched here in Pakistan by the FDRE Embassy. Having witnessed Pakistan’s vulnerability firsthand during the devastating flood of 2022, I embarked on a mission to distribute relief items to affected regions, a memory etched forever in my heart. The manifestation of our union is underscored by a mutual demand made by our heads of state at COP27 - a call for a climate fund that stands as a testament to our shared responsibility. In the realm of security, collaboration against terrorism holds immense promise, safeguarding not only our nations but the global community.

Looking ahead, Ethiopia is resolute in advancing our bilateral relationship with Pakistan. The Embassy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia envisions a future brimming with potential across various domains including the economy, education, tourism, and culture. As I conclude, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to the people and government of Pakistan for their unwavering support. Your solidarity during Ethiopia’s non-permanent candidacy in the United Nations and your unwavering stand in the UN Human Rights Council reaffirms the strength of our bond. We stand by Pakistan, just as Pakistan stands by Ethiopia. Together, we shall tread the path of shared history, united in our resolve. Ethiopia-Pakistan Dosti Zindabad!

This article is written by Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ethiopia to Pakistan