Addis Ababa, 18 March 2015 (WIC) – Foreign Affairs State Minister, Ambassador Berhane Gebrechristos met with Seán Sherlock, TD, the Irish Minister of State for Development, Trade Promotion and North-South Cooperation on Monday (March 16), to discuss a range of mutually important issues.
Ambassador Berhane said Ethiopia attached great importance to its relations with Ireland. Cooperation between the two countries was growing in areas in which where Ethiopia was working to reduce poverty and achieve the targets set in the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP).
Ambassador Berhane said that as Ethiopia is preparing to implement GTP II, focusing on agro processing and manufacturing, Irish experience in the agricultural sector would be an inspiration; the two countries were also working closely on climate change and green energy.
Ambassador Berhane also noted Ethiopia was working hard for the resolution of regional interstate conflicts and had committed itself to “Silencing the guns by 2020”, a decision adopted by the last AU summit.
He said Europe could play an innovative role to increase its engagement with Africa. Minister Sherlock said his visit to Africa, and especially to Ethiopia at the time of the celebration of St Patrick, was indicative of the conviction of his Government of the importance of enhancing trade links, investment and other important issues.
He said he would be looking at the development of the Double Taxation Agreement between Ireland and Ethiopia, as well as the bilateral Air Transport Agreement signed on his last visit to Ethiopia, in November last year, when he had accompanied Irish President Higgins.
Sherlock described the air transport agreement as a major milestone in relations between the two countries and one which paved the way for a new Ethiopian Airlines route.
He said “direct flights between Dublin and Addis Ababa, due to start from June, there is huge potential for boosting trade, investment and tourism between Ireland and Ethiopia.”
Sherlock said his Government wanted to take advantage of the opportunities in Africa, and Ethiopia would be a key player in this regard, as the country is expected to be among the 20 fastest growing economies in the world this year. There was great potential for Irish companies looking for mutually-beneficial investment opportunities.
The Minister underlined that Ireland’s long term development assistance to Ethiopia wasone of the strongest cooperation relationships in Europe.
Ethiopia, he said, was one of Ireland’s Key Partner Countries, and he expressed his satisfaction over the growth Ethiopia has registered over the last decade or so.
He said Ireland would support Ethiopia in the implementation of the GTP II, and added that the 20-year roadmap for Irish-Ethiopian relations would heighten the cooperation between “equals” where the private sector would be an active player and Ireland would support Ethiopia’s goals in post-2015 sustainable development. (MoFA