1. Historical linkages between India and Ethiopia go back about 2,000 years of recorded history. Trade between the two countries flourished during the ancient Axumite Empire (1st century AD), which is seen to be origin of modern Ethiopia. Indian traders flocked to the ancient port of Adulis in the 6th Century AD trading silk and spices for gold and ivory. In the 16th century AD, the Portuguese assisted the Christian King in Ethiopia to repel Muslim invaders, and with them came Indians from Goa. In 1935, General Robert Napier led a punitive expedition to obtain the release of European diplomats and missionaries who had been imprisoned by Emperor Tewodros II in his bunker fort at Makdala. The 30,000 strong force had 13,000 soldiers from India, mostly Sikhs. The British Army that ended the Italian occupation of Ethiopia (1936-41) also had a sizeable contingent of Indian soldiers. General William Plat, who led one of the three simultaneous attacks, commanded a force consisting of the 4th and 5th Indian Divisions.
2. Soon after achieving independence, a goodwill mission led by Sardar Sant Singh was sent to Ethiopia. Diplomatic relations at legation level were established in 1948. Full diplomatic relations were established in 1950 with Sardar Sant Singh as the first Ambassador.
3. Ethiopians do not look at Indians as aliens. A sizeable Indian community consisting of merchants and artisans, settled down in this country in the latter part of the 19th century. Post-war Ethiopia, under Emperor Haile Selassie (1941-1974), saw a large number of Indian teachers in Ethiopia, even in the remotest parts. This, more than anything else, explains the tremendous goodwill that India enjoys in Ethiopia. Ethiopia also values India as an important partner in its development efforts. Our cooperation under the ITEC programme has been considerable. Ethiopia is also receiving US $ 700 million in concessional credit from us; more than any other country other than those in our immediate neighbourhood. Our cooperation is valued as, unlike that from the EU and the US, there is no attempt to interfere in domestic political processes. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi frequently states publicly that China and India are Ethiopia's preferred partners.
4. An agreement to establish a Joint Commission was signed during the visit of Shri Pranab Mukherjee, then EAM to Ethiopia in July 2007. The first meeting of the Joint Commission was held in New Delhi in December 2010. The Ethiopian side was led by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Hailemariam Desalegn. EAM led the Indian delegation.
5. A Protocol on Foreign Office Consultations was signed during the visit of the then EAM to Ethiopia in July 2007. The first round of Consultations was held in New Delhi in March 2010. The Ethiopian delegation was led by Amb. Mahdi Ahmed, Director General for Middle East, Asia and Oceania in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. JS(E&SA) led the Indian delegation.
6. Emperor Haile Selassie visited India in 1956 and again in 1968. Col. Haile Mariam Mengistu, who headed the Communist regime that ruled the country from 1974-91, visited India in 1983 for the NAM Summit. He later paid a State visit to India in 1985. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi visited India to attend the 4th International Conference on Federalism at New Delhi on 5-7 November, 2007, on 8-9, April 2008 to attend India-Africa Forum Summit and also on February 4-5, 2009 to take part in the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit. Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin visited India in 1992. Recently, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn visited India for the first meeting of the Joint Commission in December 2010.
7. From our side, President S. Radhakrishnan visited India in 1965. This was followed by the visit of Vice President Zakir Hussain in 1967 and President V.V. Giri in 1972. Smt. Indira Gandhi visited Ethiopia as Minister of Information and Broadcasting in 1964. Shri Pranab Mukherjee, then External Affairs Minister visited Ethiopia in 2007.
8. The India Africa Forum Summit-II held in May 2011, at Addis Ababa, saw the culmination of the bilateral relations to higher levels. Minister of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Anand Sharma, External Affairs Minister, Sh. S.M.Krishna and finally the Prime Minister paid visit to Addis Ababa for the IAFS-II. The Minister of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Anand Sharma, held bilateral meetings, with the PM, Mr. Meles Zenawi, Trade Minister, Mr. Abdurhman Sheikh Mohammed and inaugurated the India Africa Trade Exhibition. He also led a delegation of Indian CEOs.
9. During the IAFS-II, the External Affairs Minister Mr. S.M.Krishna also visited Addis Ababa and held discussions with his counterpart Mr. Hailemariam Desalegn, DPM and the FM. During the visit two agreements namely MOU between NSIC India and FEMSEDA, Ethiopia and agreement on
Avoidance of double taxation were signed.
10. The IAFS-II, saw the first ever state visit of the Prime Minister of India to Ethiopia. The Prime Minister held bilateral meetings with the PM, Meles Zenawi and announced that the trade between the two countries to reach a target of US $ 1 billion by 2015. PM, Manmohan Singh also announced a new credit line of US $ 300 million for Djibouti-Ethiopia Railway line. PM, Meles Zenawi, announced that there would be enhanced cooperation in agriculture, defence and trade. The PM inaugurated the IAFS-II in Addis Ababa in on 24-25 May 2011, which was attended by HOSs/HOGs of 17 African Countries. Two documents, namely 1. The Framework for enhanced cooperation and 2. The Addis Ababa Declaration were adopted during the summit.
11. Prof. K.V. Thomas, minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution visited Addis Ababa from 5-7 July 2011. During the visit he met the Dy. PM and Foreign Minister, Mr. Hailemariam Desallegn, Minister for Agriculture Mr. Derbew Tefera , DG. Sugar Corporation and held discussions on bilateral cooperation.
12. A four member delegation led by H.E. Mr. Rajiv Mehrishi, Director General of the department of Agricultural Research and Education and Secretary , Indian Council of Agricultural Research, visited Ethiopia from 11/12/2011 to 13/12/2011. During the visit the delegation signed an MOU for cooperation in the field of Agricultural research and Education, in the presence of the State Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, H.E. Mr. Wondiyirad Mandefro and the Indian Ambassador, H.E.Mr. Bhagwant Singh Bishnoi.
13. The 2nd round of Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) were held at Addis Ababa on January 24, 2012. The Indian side was led by AS(E&SA) Mr. Gurjit Singh and the Ethiopian side was led by Mr. Arega Hailu, Director General, Asia and Oceania Affairs.
14. A team led by Mr. Madhusudhan Ganapathi, Secretary(West), Mr. Gurjit Singh, Addl Secretary(E&SA), Mr. Manjeev Puri, DPR and Sh. Sanjay Rana, Director(UNP) visited Addis Ababa for the 18th Annual Session of the Executive Council of the African Union between 26-28 January 2012. Secy(West) met over 15 different delegations from AU member states, other observers and representatives of Regional Economic Communities of Africa to discuss the progress of action taken on the implementation of decision taken under the IAFS I & II and other issues of mutual concern and UN reforms. He also met Dr. Jean Ping, Chairperson of the African Union Commission.
15. The bilateral agreements signed by the two countries are:
- Air Services Agreement (1967) which was signed again in March 2008.
- Agreement on Technical, Economic and Scientific Cooperation (1969)
- Cultural Agreement (1983)
- Trade Agreement (1997)
- Agreement on Cooperation in Micro Dams and Small Scale Irrigation Schemes (2002)
- Agreement on Establishment of Joint Ministerial Commission (2007)
- Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (2007)
- Agreement on Cooperation in the field of Science and Technology (2007)
- Educational Exchange Programme (2007)
- Protocol on Foreign Office Consultations (2007)
- Double Taxation avoidance treaty (2011)
- MOU between NSIC, India and FEMSEDA (2011)
- MOU between ICAR and Ethiopian institute of Agricultural Research in December 2011.
16. A trade agreement, signed by the two countries in 2007 provides for the establishment of a Joint Trade Committee (JTC). The first meeting of the JTC was held in Addis Ababa in February 1998, the second in Delhi in March 2001, the third in Addis Ababa in July 2002, the fourth in New Delhi in January 2006 and the fifth in Addis Ababa in October 2008. For the fifth meeting, the Ethiopian side was led by Mr. Ahmed Tusa, State Minister for Trade and Industry and the Indian side by Shri Jairam Ramesh, MOS for Commerce and Power. India's annual exports to Ethiopia are in the range of US $ 636.5 million. This is significant given that Ethiopia's global non-oil imports are only US $ 6.2 billion approximately. India is the third most important source of imports for Ethiopia, contributing 7.5% of all of Ethiopia's imports. [China at 14.3 and Saudi Arabia at 7.6% are ahead.] These imports cover the entire range of manufactured goods that are imported into Ethiopia.
17. India is one of the largest foreign investors in Ethiopia with approved investment of US $ 4.7billion. Of this, approximately US $ 1 billion is already on the ground or in the pipeline. About 64% of Indian investment is in the field of commercial agriculture. Some of the major investors in this field are: M/s Karturi - 340,000 hectares, Emami Biotech - 40,000 hectares, Ruchi Soya - 25,000 hectares, Shapoorji Pallonji - 15,000 hectares, Ramton Agri - 10,000 hectares.
Cooperation for Capacity Building
18. The ITEC programme for Ethiopia was started in 1969. In 2007-08, the number of training slots offered by us was 25. There has been a steady increase in the number of training slots offered by us. In 2009-10, the 90 slots were offered by us and were fully utilized. For 2010-11, 90 slots were offered by us and were fully utilized by mid-November 2010. For the year 2010- 2011, it has been enhanced to 120 slots which have also been fully utilized. Recently the Ministry of External Affairs on account of decisions taken during the India Africa Forum Summit have further enhanced these slots to 135 for the year 2011-2012. As on November 2011, the slots have been fully utilized. The number of slots after seeing the full utilization has been enhanced to 150 for the year 2011-12.
19. The pan African e-Network project was launched in Ethiopia in July 2007. The Tele-Education Centre at Addis Ababa University and the Tele-Medicine Centre at the Black Lion Hospital in Addis Ababa are working well and are considered useful by the Ethiopian side. The Tele-Education project has been replicated by the Ethiopian side and linkages established between the Addis Ababa University and the Indian Institutes of Technology at Delhi and Kanpur.
20. From time to time, we keep making available the services of experts in various fields to Ethiopia under the ITEC programme. A multi-member team of Indian Customs officers provided consultancy in WTO customs valuation to Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority as well as a 40 members team of leather professionals from CLRI and FDDI, on a commercial contract signed by the Ethiopian government, are working here to raise quality standards in Ethiopian tanneries and leather factories.
Cooperation in Culture and Education
21. While a Cultural Agreement was signed in 1983, we have not been able to sign a Cultural Exchange Programme. But ICCR-sponsored cultural troupes regularly visit Ethiopia.
22. We had, in April 2008, doubled to 40 the number of scholarships offered to Ethiopian students for University studies in India. The Ethiopian Government offers some 350 scholarships to their nationals for University studies in India every year. In addition, they also 'top up' the living stipends provided with the ICCR scholarships.
23. The traditional Indian community in Ethiopia is from Gujarat. They came to this country in the latter years of the 19th century. During imperial times, there were also tens of thousands of Indian teachers in schools all over Ethiopia, even in the most remote parts. The numbers of the Indian community fell very significantly during the Derg regime. It is now around 2,000 - the majority being the new investors and their employees.