Africa positioning itself as an emerging major economy has brought global excitement, and the Philippines could seize the opportunity by forging stronger partnership with Ethiopia, one of the region’s major economies, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said on Tuesday.
“I think the whole world is very excited about — how most of Africa is positioned in terms of — now coming and emerging… as major economy, as they already are,” President Marcos said in welcoming Ethiopian Ambassador Dessie Dalkie Dukamo in Malacañang.
The Philippines and Ethiopia, he said, can explore many things in terms of trade, transfer of technology and other exchanges.
He noted that the Philippines has identified agriculture as a priority sector because of the necessity to support the needs of the Filipino people and also sustaining the rest of the economy, including the service and the manufacturing sectors, the base of the country’s development.
For his part, Dukamo said Ethiopia considers the Philippines’ development trajectory something to look at.
“We know how the Philippines is growing from traditional agriculture to services and manufacturing industry, especially in the area of technical and vocational training. The way how the Philippines makes its people…skilled and dedicated and productive,” he said, praising the Filipino workers for their dedication, hard work and discipline.
“We know well the Philippines through its workers. We are so grateful and we can share a lot in the area of trade and industry. From the fastest growing economy, we can share a lot. Ethiopia is also now growing larger, step by step (becoming) a large country and the largest economy in East Africa with huge potential in trade and investment.”
Philippine businessmen can invest in Ethiopia’s industrial area, particularly with their expertise in manufacturing especially electronics, which they could introduce to Ethiopia, he said, noting that aside from being a large country in Africa, his country is also a gateway in that region.
“It’s geographically located bridging the Middle East and the rest of Africa and also Western countries. So, if Filipino businessmen come and invest in Ethiopia, it’s possible to take advantage of Africa market.”
He also raised the need to establish air linkages between Ethiopia and the Philippines to strengthen bilateral cooperation in various fields, which could also be expanded regionally in Africa.
“Let’s work on that. Let that be the first job that we give ourselves. We make that connection easier. I think it’s never a bad thing to start with people-to-people relations that are always so important,” President Marcos said as response.
“Sometimes I say that foreign diplomacy is best conducted by ordinary people rather than diplomats. Which I’m sure you’re happy about. Because we are proud of our citizens They are all good ambassadors for our country. Any good contact for us is necessarily a good thing.”
Dukamo, with ministerial rank, also serves as Advisor of Agriculture and Irrigation to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia from October 2018 until today. From 2013 to 2018, he was the president of the Southern Nation, Nationalities and Peoples Regional State (SNNPRS) in Ethiopia.
The Philippines and Ethiopia formally established diplomatic relations on February 7, 1977, and are celebrating 46 years of diplomatic relations this year.
Since the establishment of bilateral relations, two agreements have been signed between the governments of the Philippines and Ethiopia: first, on Air Services (signed on October 8, 2014 in Manila); and, second, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the Establishment of a Bilateral Consultations Mechanism between the Philippines and Ethiopia (signed on October 11, 2016 in Manila).
Other pending agreements being considered are on Information and Communications Technology; Promotion and Protection of Investments; Labor Cooperation; Visa Waiver Agreement for Diplomatic Passport Holders; Culture and Tourism; and, Taxation and Prevention of Fiscal Evasion.
Based on the 2022 record on Philippines-Ethiopia trade, the two-way exports between the two countries were at US$3.13 million, while imports amounted to US$0.26 million, with a total trade reaching US$3.38 million. | PND