10 January 2017

Ethiopia: Ethio-Saudi Relations On Rise - Ministry

Ethiopia's multifaceted relations with Saudi Arabia gained new momentum following Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn Riyadh visit last November, according to Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Ministry Middle East Affairs Directorate Director Temesgen Omer told The Ethiopian Herald that the visit created opportunity to discuss various issues with the high-level Saudi officials including King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud.

Temesgen indicated as the premier held talks on ways of scaling up Saudi investors market participation and supporting Ethiopia's development projects.

He also added that the talks included cooperation in regional peace and security.

The visit bears fruits in short time in that two high-level Saudi delegation arrived in Addis and identified investment areas, said the director, adding it is a showcase of the thriving cooperation.

Saudi Arabia's Minister of Agriculture Abdul Rahman bin Abdul Mohsen Al-Fadhli held talks with Prime Minister Hailemaraim on ways of bolstering Saudi investors involvement in the agriculture and livestock sectors. Similarly, Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Senior Adviser at the Royal Court in the Royal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, paid a visit to Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) to look for possibilities of Saudi investment in Ethiopia's renewable energy sector.

Also, Saudi Arabia's Deputy Agriculture Minister Dr. Hamad Abdulaziaz was here to express his country's desire to engage in agriculture in general and livestock sector in particular.

The swift reciprocal visit further consolidated the amity of the two nations, said the director, adding Ethio-Saudi joint technical committee would soon take shape in line with the agreements reached.

The committee is to be tasked with facilitating conditions for Saudi investors to engage in the priority areas including crop farming, livestock, energy and mining.

He said: " Discussion is underway to form the technical committee which will also conduct feasibility studies for investors in the priority areas."

The director mentioned that Saudi Arabia is implementing economic restructuring_plan known as Vision 2030 that reduces its reliance on oil thereby transforming the economy and become one of the top investing countries in the world. Due to this, the country is eyeing Ethiopia as one of its top investment destinations, he added.

Due to its limited water supply and the cost of desalination, agriculture has become Saudi Arabia's' priority for overseas investment. Ethiopia on the other hand offers wide investment opportunities that are crucial for Saudi in order to meet its goals of economic diversification in the agriculture, health care, retail and infrastructure sectors.

Indicating the assignment of various government institutions to identify areas for future Saudi-based investment projects, Temesgen said multi-sectoral efforts are underway to keep the momentum.

Some 22 investment projects implemented between 2010 and 2015, with an aggregate capital of 6.7 billion Birr, make Saudi the 4th largest country investing here, reported Ethiopian Investment Commission. Not only that, Saudi is also Ethiopia's fourth biggest export destination. In the year 2015/16 Saudi imported agricultural produces worth 187.7 million USD from Ethiopia, according to Ministry of Trade.

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