Ethiopia and Ukraine have joined forces to bolster their economic ties through the establishment of a joint trade commission that will oversee and enhance bilateral trade practices.
Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, shared with the media and diplomatic corps in Addis Ababa that he had a fruitful conversation with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD).
Kuleba’s visit to Morocco, Ethiopia, and Rwanda aimed to build Ukraine’s economic partnerships in Africa, with Ethiopia being one of its most significant trade partners on the continent.
According to the State Statistics Agency of Ukraine, the two nations exchanged goods and services worth USD 285 million as of December 31, 2021, with Ukraine importing USD 7 million and exporting USD 278 million in 2021.
Ethiopia primarily supplies tea, coffee, seeds, fruit oilseeds, knitted and crocheted clothing, and flowers to Ukraine, while Ukraine chiefly imports food and industrial supplies such as wheat, meat, and vegetable oil, as well as textiles, ferrous metals, aluminum, and their products from Ethiopia.
Upon his arrival in Ethiopia, the Ukrainian Minister was not greeted by senior Ethiopian government officials, as is customary for delegations that have previously visited the country. Nevertheless, the Minister mentioned that he had a productive conversation with Abiy, highlighting that “in times of war, substance matters most, and one does not need extravagance or special treatment. We are very simple, just like you.”
The Minister also revealed that the two countries had agreed to establish an intergovernmental committee for trade, economic cooperation, and technology collaboration, with delegations from each nation resuming discussions. According to Kuleba, this was the first successful dialogue between high-ranking officials from both nations.
“As a person with a military background, he perfectly understood what was happening in Ukraine,” Kuleba said of his conversation with the Prime Minister.
The Foreign Minister emphasized Ukraine’s intention to establish direct relationships with African nations based on mutual interest, mutual benefit, and shared principles.
“Despite the ongoing conflict, we intend to expand trade and cooperation with African nations and launch specialized programs. We recognize that food security is one of the primary concerns of African nations, and this is a role we wish to maintain in the global food system,” Kuleba explained.
According to the Minister, the “Grain from Ukraine” initiative has already dispatched 123 ships carrying over three million tons of agricultural products to Ethiopia, Libya, Morocco, Egypt, Kenya, Sudan, Tunisia, Somalia, and Algeria.
“We are attempting to explain that remaining neutral in the face of Russian aggression against Ukraine would entail remaining neutral in the face of potential border violations and mass atrocities that could occur very close to you, if not directly against you,” the Minister said.
According to Kuleba, this conflict represents a battle between those who uphold international law and those who believe they can flout it by invading, torturing, and committing other violations.
“It won’t be easy for us to communicate, but we’ll keep trying,” he concluded.