Remarks by Shri V. Muraleedharan, Hon’ble Minister of State for External Affairs at the India-Ethiopia Business Forum (17 Feb 2021)

Remarks by Shri V. Muraleedharan, Hon’ble Minister of State for External Affairs at the India-Ethiopia Business Forum (17 Feb 2021)

Your Excellency, Mr Demeke Mekonnen, Hon’ble Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia,
Ambassador Birtukan Ayano Dadi, State Minister for Foreign Affairs,
Ambassador of Ethiopia in New Delhi Dr. Tizita Mulugeta,
Shri Vineet Agarwal, President ASSOCHAM,
Friends,
Good afternoon and Namaskaram,

Let me begin by extending a warm welcome to H.E. Deputy Prime Minister Mekonnen and his delegation to India. Let me also congratulate ASSOCHAM, the Ambassador of Ethiopia in India and her team for organizing this India-Ethiopia Business Forum meeting.

2. The historical links between India and Ethiopia go back over 2,000 years of recorded history. There is archaeological evidence that, as early as the first century, Indian traders had trade links with eastern Ethiopia and traded silk and spices for gold and ivory. We have come a long way since then and, today, our trade and investment ties are among the most notable of the many ties that bind our two nations.

Friends,

3. Ethiopia is the second-most populous country of Africa. Its economy has posted double digit growth rates over 15 years. Ethiopia also has a highly-educated and skilled populace. These attributes are due to the sound economic policies of its leadership. It is natural then that Indian investors have invested strongly in Ethiopia to the mutual benefit of our two nations. I learned with happiness that today there are over 607 Indian companies in Ethiopia with a licensed investment of over US$ 5 billion. These Indian companies give employment to about 75,000 Ethiopian nationals. EXIM Bank of India has its regional office in Addis Ababa, attesting further to our recognition of Ethiopia’s economic weight in the region.

4. About 61% of Indian investments are in the manufacturing sector, followed by agriculture which accounts for 14%. Some of our well-known companies like Cadila, Tata, S&P, Kanoria Textile, Mohan Groups, Anmol Products, Arvind Mills, Asian Paints, Ethio Cement, Best International, Allana Group, Farida Tanneries, Hansa Flowers, etc are in Ethiopia.

Friends,

5. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Indian businessmen have continued to explore investment opportunities in Ethiopia. During the last one year, we have had 35 new Indian investments in Ethiopia. Let me take this opportunity to express appreciation for the Ethiopian Government’s effort in creating a congenial environment for foreign investments and in particular for facilitating Indian companies to invest in Ethiopia and carry on their business. I would also like to congratulate the India Business Forum (IBF), Ethiopia for facilitating Indian investors in Ethiopia.

6. India is also one of the largest trading partners of Ethiopia. However, there is still scope to expand and diversify trade between the two countries and I am certain that our two business communities are working towards this objective.

7. Another important aspect of our bilateral relations is our development partnership. We are happy that Ethiopia continues to be one of the largest recipients of India’s concessional loans or Lines of Credit in Africa. Our Lines of Credit are based on the priorities of our partner countries and also aim to share our expertise as well as the lessons of our own experiences in developing our infrastructure and our educational institutions and so on with our friends. I am glad that our development partnership covers sectors such as rural electrification and the sugar industry and consists of a total of 6 Lines of Credit amounting to US$ 705 million extended to Ethiopia.

Friends,

8. I was gratified to learn that during the period from the 1930s to the 1970s, there were tens of thousands of Indian teachers in schools all over Ethiopia, mostly from my home state of Kerala. Even today the Indian community has a sizeable presence in the educational sector of Ethiopia. There are an estimated 2000 Indian Lecturers and Professors in about 40 Universities and higher educational institutions there. I was also happy to learn that Ethiopian students form perhaps the largest contingent of African students in India. I invite Indian entrepreneurs to consider establishing high-quality educational institutions, of both technical and non-technical nature, in Ethiopia.

Friends,

9. I am positive that the visit of the Hon’ble Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Ethiopia to India, his first visit to Asia since taking charge as Foreign Minister, will further strengthen our bilateral relations in every respect. Your Excellency, India would like to continue to partner in the Ethiopia growth story.

10. I commend ASSOCHAM and the Embassy of Ethiopia in New Delhi once again for organizing this business event. I wish you all the very best in your deliberations.

Thank you.

New Delhi
February 17, 2021

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