On the 53rd anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Korea and Ethiopia, Choe Nam-suk, Vice President of Korea IT Times interviewed Mr. Dinberu Alemu, Charge d’Affaires of Ethiopian Embassy Korea
Please brief the brief history of diplomatic and economic relations between Korea and Ethiopia.
As you all Know Ethiopia is the oldest independent African country. Korea and Ethiopia established their diplomatic relations in 1963 when the former opened its embassy in Addis Ababa. Ethiopia was one of the sixteen united nation countries, which responded to the call of UN Security Council to preserve peace and security in Korean peninsula during Korean War (1951-1953). At that time, Ethiopia contributed 6030 troops as part of UN forces. During the war, Ethiopian won all 235 of battles, but not a single of one of the 6037 patriots went missing or became a prisoner of war (POWs).
The relationship between Korea and Ethiopia has been enhanced by historic visits of the leaders of the two countries. The visits by former Prime Minister, H.E. Mr. Meles Zenawi, in 1998, 2010, 2011 and the former Korean president H.E. Mr. Lee Myung-bak in 2011 have enhanced the historic relationship of the two countries. During the official visits, the two leaders had discussed on the ways to further expand the scope of bilateral cooperation in various fields including development, infrastructure, investment, trade and issues of mutual interest in the international arena.
As you are well aware , Korean President Park Geun-hye and Ethiopian President, Mulatu Teshome Wirtu had summit talks on last April 14th in Seoul. Please let us know major issues discussed and agreed during the summit.
H.E. Dr. Mulatu Teshome, President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, came to visit the Republic of Korea to attend the 7th World Water Forum and to have bilateral talk with the Korean President, H.E. Ms. Park,Geun-hye. H.E. Dr. Mulatu Teshome met with H.E. Ms. Park Geun-hye in Blue House on April 14, 2015 and discussed issues of mutual interest. During the meeting, H.E. President Park referred to Ethiopia as the only “blood brother” of Korea in Africa, as it sent troops to support South Korea during the Korean war (1950-1953) and President Park mentioned the completion of the construction of the memorial hall for Ethiopian veterans in the Korean war and described the hall as a symbol of “the will of the Korean people, who will never forget the sacred sacrifices made by the Ethiopian soldiers who fought in the war.”
President Park also responded to comment made by our president that “if we combine the resources of Ethiopia with Korea’s development experience and know-how, it will greatly contribute to win-win cooperation for both countries.” President Park pledged Korea would pay back Ethiopia to ensure the success of the pilot programs and also said that Korea’s Knowledge Sharing Program (KSP) would contribute to economic development.
What do you think are the most promising industrial sectors for Korean companies to invest in Ethiopia in the near future
Ethiopia is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The country has stable political and economic environment. I would say, Ethiopia is a land of investment opportunity. There are many investment opportunities in the country, agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, mining, hydro power and social services.
The country has a large population and thus potentially one of the largest domestic markets in Africa. By virtue of its membership of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), embracing 19 countries with a population of over 400 million, Ethiopia also enjoys preferential market access to those countries. Ethiopia qualifies for preferential access to European Union Market under the EU’s Everything-But-Arms (EBA) initiative and to USA markets under the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA). Accordingly, most Ethiopian products can enter into these markets quota and duty free.
Furthermore, a broad range of manufactured goods from Ethiopia are entitled to preferential access under the generalized system of preference (GSP) of the USA. As for man power, investors can find easily trainable labor force and skilled workers. Skilled workers and technicians is increasing steadily as a result of an increase in the number of universities, colleges, and vocational and technical training schools in the country.
Please introduce Ethiopian Government’s attractive investment environment policy for foreign investors.
The Ethiopian government has made commendable efforts, through legislative and procedural reforms, to improve the investment climate of the country and thereby attract more foreign direct investment. In line with market-oriented economic policy, the investment regime has been liberalized through a series of Government legislations. Since 1992, the investment code has been revised three times to ensure the participation of more foreign investments in various sectors of economy. In light of this, some incentives are granted to both domestic and foreign investors engaged in eligible areas for investments incentives in order to encourage private investors and to promote the inflow of foreign capital and technology into Ethiopia.
One example of incentives is exemptions from customs import duties for all investment capital goods such as plant machinery and equipment, construction materials. The other example is exemption from payment of export customs for products and services destined for export. Moreover, there are exemption from income tax for the period ranging from 2-6 years depending on the area of investment. Aside from the incentives mentioned above, there are other different incentives to promote investment in Ethiopia.