Ethiopia: Growing Ethio-U.S Diplomatic Relations – –

by Zelalem

In diplomatic relationship of countries, the role of good diplomat is vital. As a bridge between his/her own and one or more countries he/she can play a significant role, furthering relationship into a greater one. In this regard, US Ambassador to Ethiopia, Patricia M. Haslach, who had been serving for the last three years is one notable example.

Bidding farewell in his office Tuesday, FDRE President Dr. Mulatu Teshome appreciated the diplomatic successes of the Ambassador.

Dr. Mulatu lauded her role during President Obama visit that witnessed a new chapter in the diplomatic relations of the two countries. According to him, within the past two decades investment and economic cooperation, humanitarian aid, peace and security, democratization and good governance, which are pillars of Ethio-US cooperation, have achieved a good position.

Ethiopia and the United States of America have a century old diplomatic relations. The two countries started their bilateral relations in 1903 when the first US Ambassador arrived in Addis Ababa. In 1903, after nine days of meetings in Ethiopia between Emperor Menelik II and Robert P. Skinner, an emissary of President Theodore Roosevelt, formal relations between the two countries commenced which included a grant of “Most Favoured Nation” status.

Until the coming of Derg into power, the two countries enjoyed strong bilateral diplomatic relationship. However, with the advent of the regime into power, the relations between the two countries took a wrong turn.

After a couple of decades, with the downfall of Mengistu Haile-Mariam, US-Ethiopian relations improved as legislative restrictions on non-humanitarian assistance to Ethiopia were lifted. Diplomatic relations were upgraded to the ambassadorial level in 1992.

After the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) took power, the relationships saw restoration. For instance, according to the Department of State, total US government assistance, including food aid, between 1991 and 2003 was USD 2.3 billion.

Two decades back, Ethiopia’s relations with US was limited to aid. But presently, their relationship is based on the principle of mutual cooperation and partnership in various areas particularly trade and investment. Over the last two decades their long-standing relations has gained momentum in areas of peace, economy, security, democracy and good governance issues.

Within the past two decades the two countries have fostered their bondage in economic, political, cultural as well as social arenas. What is more, Ethiopia and America’s strong commitment against terrorism has brought them together into a single podium.

The two countries common stand on global counter terrorism fight has also strengthened their historical relations. Both countries have been committed to working together in combating terrorism and promoting peacekeeping missions as major areas of cooperation.

Economic cooperation between the two countries is another area where strong bondage is witnessed. Once, in an exclusive interview with The Ethiopian Herald Ambassador Patrica said that the US government is interested to work with Ethiopia in the manufacturing and other economic sectors.

She said US government is interested in getting American companies to invest on sectors such as textile, pharmaceutical, agro-processing and healthcare.

Using the AGOA (African Growth Opportunity Act) Ethiopia and other African countries can benefit from the fertile economic opportunity in America.

As per GTP II, the US is also keen to build the capacity of health and education sectors. A considerable amount of fund is provided by the US to build pharmaceutical facilities, clinics as well as maternal and child health centres.

The issue of climate change is another area where the two countries have showed unreserved effort. Like that of the US, Ethiopia is a country that really understands the impacts of climate change. Due to this, the US government is supporting Ethiopia. For instance between 2010-2015, the US government has provided some 147 million USD directly to the government of Ethiopia for various programmes. In addition, the US government has pledged three billion USD to the Green Climate Fund.

This long standing tie has gone from good to better when President Obama visited Ethiopia last year. President Obama’s visit has further stimulated economic cooperation between the two countries chiefly in the areas of trade and investment. So far, over 400 American investors are operating in Ethiopia.

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