Chinese Ambassador to Ethiopia Zhao Zhiyuan delivers a speech during the China-Ethiopia Investment and Trade Cooperation Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on May 12, 2022. Ethiopia and China on Thursday held the investment and trade cooperation forum that aimed at further augmenting trade and economic ties. (Xinhua/Wang Ping)
ADDIS ABABA, May 12 (Xinhua) -- Ethiopia and China on Thursday held an investment and trade cooperation forum that aimed at further augmenting trade and economic ties.
The China-Ethiopia Investment and Trade Cooperation Forum was co-hosted by the Chinese Embassy in Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC) and the Investment Promotion Agency of the Ministry of Commerce of China in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.
During the forum, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Investment Cooperation was signed between the two countries, which will serve as a new cooperation mechanism to promote investment cooperation and inject new impetus to the collaboration of the two countries.
The forum, which was held in a hybrid format, brought together senior Ethiopian government officials, the business community from the two countries, as well as the Chinese diplomatic community in Addis Ababa. Senior Chinese government officials also took part in the high-level investment and trade forum virtually from China.
While addressing the forum, Ethiopia's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen emphasized that the East African country has become one of the largest recipients of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Africa, in which Chinese engagement has injected a much-needed momentum to the country's drive.
He said Chinese investment in communication technologies, large-scale infrastructure, industrial parks and manufacturing sectors have certainly augmented the efforts of the Ethiopian government to create a competitive and sustainable industrial development base.
"Indeed, China has proven to be our most-trusted economic and political partner, and its support continues to reinforce the impressive growth trajectory of Ethiopia," Mekonnen said, declaring that the newly signed cooperative instrument "will play a unique role by developing institutional capacity of the EIC in promoting and facilitating Chinese investment inflows to new heights."
The forum, among other things, aimed at implementing the Nine Programs of China-Africa cooperation announced by China at the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), promoting China's Initiative for Peace and Development in the Horn of Africa, and facilitating development plans such as the joint building of programs under the Belt and Road Initiative.
It further envisaged facilitating the implementation of the China-Africa Cooperation Vision 2035 as well as Ethiopia's Homegrown Economic Reform while further deepening China-Ethiopia comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership.
Vice Minister Qian Keming of Commerce of China, in addressing the forum via video link, on his part emphasized that since the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries more than 50 years ago, the political mutual trust between the two countries has been continuously deepened, and the cooperation in various fields such as economy and trade has achieved practical and fruitful results.
"China and Ethiopia need to strengthen solidarity, deepen friendly cooperation, achieve mutual benefit and win-win results, and promote steady progress in economic and trade cooperation between the two countries," he said.
He emphasized that the two countries need to implement the Nine Programs of China-Africa cooperation, deepen the synergy of development strategies, promote the healthy development of economic and trade cooperation, and enrich the exchange and cooperation mechanism.
Qian affirmed that China is willing to join hands with Ethiopia to uphold the spirit of China-Africa friendly cooperation and jointly advance bilateral economic and trade cooperation to a new level, so as to bring more tangible benefits to the two peoples.
China has been Ethiopia's largest trading partner and biggest source of investment for many consecutive years.
In 2021, bilateral trade volume reached 2.66 billion U.S. dollars, of which, China imported commodities of nearly 370 million U.S. dollars from Ethiopia, a year-on-year increase of 8.1 percent.
EIC Commissioner Lelise Neme also echoed the Ethiopian deputy prime minister's comments as she emphasized that the newly signed MOU will lay down a foundation for a strong economic relationship between the two countries.
"China is not only a reliable development partner and consistent supporter of Ethiopia's development efforts but also a role model and exemplary on how to formulate and implement development policies and eliminate poverty to achieve inclusive and sustainable development," Neme said. "The growing Chinese investment in Ethiopia is a continuation of the generous development support that China provided through various channels, including the Belt and Road Initiative."
Chinese Ambassador to Ethiopia Zhao Zhiyuan said the Investment and Trade Cooperation Forum is "highly timely and relevant" to promote the development of businesses between the two countries toward creating a more favorable business environment.
"I am confident that, the signing of the MoU today to promote investment cooperation will create a new cooperation mechanism and inject new impetus to our collaboration," the ambassador said. ■