Republic of the Philippines aims at a series of bilateral political talks with Ethiopia in a bid to intensify the four decade long diplomatic ties between the two countries, Ambassador of Philippines to Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea and Djibouti Leslie Baja told The Ethiopian Herald.
"We currently have a bilateral trade exchange estimated to be around twenty million US dollars per annum", said Baja, adding that Philippines would like to boost this economic relations to heightened cooperation through permanent presence in Ethiopia in the form of Consulate or Embassy in the near future.
By doing so, he added, "we intend to strengthen the two countries' business ties by having increased number of businessmen in each others' country". The Ambassador also explained the desire to boosting tourism flow between Ethiopia and Philippines amid the existing operation of Ethiopian Airlines to the Asian nation.
The first Filipinos to come to Ethiopia were teachers arriving in as soon as Ethiopian Airlines started flying to the archipelago 40 years ago. Baja said, "Now, there is a remarkable amount of Filipino presence here engaged in all sectors including TVET, Universities, factories, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, religious institutions and some voluntary activities as well".
The Ambassador also revealed that Ethiopia's agricultural production could benefit a lot from the wider Filipino market. "The tourism sector especially medical tourism is where the two countries can exchange a lot once the two countries formally sit down to discuss investment opportunities," he further added.
Baja said, "We have recently signed a bilateral consultation mechanism with Ethiopia, and we hope to setup a road map to strengthen our political, economic and cultural ties in the near future". As Ethiopia is the seat of the African Union and other international organizations, the country offers political and historical significance to the continent ensuring Philippines' increased interest to the Nation, he added.
Africa and Asia established strong relations since the first Bandung Conference held in 1955, whereas Ethiopia recently opened a heightened alliance with East Asian nations which the Ambassador believes is a "step forward towards solidifying ties between the two continents".
In an exclusive interview with The Ethiopian Herald, Asia and Oceania affairs Director General at the Minstry of Foreign Affairs Tsegab Kebebw said, "Philippines, as a newly industrialized nation, could share its knowledge and experiences in the areas of ICT and Medicine where we expect Filipino businessmen to invest in Ethiopia."
He further mentioned the market potentials available for Ethiopia's agricultural products that could be exploited in Philippines as they are emerging economies dubbed "the tiger cub economy". Ethiopia can learn a lot regarding eliciting economic benefit from remittances, Tsegab further added.