Ethiopia and France have been sharing a common vision of the world and tackling global challenges, France’s Ambassador to Ethiopia and African Union said.
In exclusive interview with ENA, Ambassador Frédéric Bontems said the two countries are working closely to address global challenges.
“Ethiopia, for example, has been very instrumental in the success of COP 21 (the Paris Climate Conference) negotiations and the agreement. In security too, our two states have taken responsibility in Sahel and the Horn of Africa”, he elaborated.
According to him, the countries are also cooperating in the UN Security Council where France is a permanent member and Ethiopia a non-permanent member for the year 2017-2018. “We are working together to try to solve international crisis,” he said.
Ambassador Bontems further pointed out that the new president of France has always shown a particular interest in Africa, which he perceives as a continent of future.
President Emmanuel Macron had, before being elected, expressed desire for strong partnership between France, Europe, Mediterranean and Africa, the Ambassador noted.
“In some fields of mutual interest such as climate change, trade, security, I am sure we are going to work very well together, taking at the same time into account such challenges as democracy, good governance, and respect for the law”, he stated.
Regarding investment, Ambassador Bontems said that France is working very closely with EU to promote increased investment of Europe in the development of the African continent.
He revealed that the development assistance of EU and its member states to Africa is around 1 billion Euros this year.
With respect to trade relations between the countries, the Ambassador said “French companies have a growing interest in Ethiopia. In 2014 we had 28 French companies active in the country, today the number has doubled with roughly 50 French businesses established in Ethiopia”.
Ambassador Bontems however insists that the countries can even go further. “When we speak of business climate, we have to have a conducive regulatory environment to reinforce the attractiveness of Ethiopia. And I think there is still improvement to be made in this respect” he added.
The Ambassador admits that the trade balance is now in favor of France. But he adds that “the real challenge here for Ethiopia is to develop its export by developing the industrial sector in order to address the French and Ethiopian market.”
Ethiopia and France established their diplomatic relations in 1897. The relation was naturally marked by the construction of the famous railway between Djibouti and Addis Ababa.