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Ethiopia - UK Relations

. . . based on mutual respect, true friendship and a common vision for global peace and prosperity.

Over the centuries, Ethiopia has enjoyed close economic, diplomatic and cultural relations with the United Kingdom. In fact, Great Britain was among the first countries to open an embassy in Addis Ababa, while Ethiopia was the first African country to establish an embassy in London. Both countries collaborate on many issues of mutual concern at the regional and global levels.

Historically, Ethiopia and the United Kingdom have enjoyed rich diplomatic relations covering a range of areas, including, but not limited to, trade, culture, education and development cooperation. In fact, Great Britain was among the first few countries to open an embassy in Addis Ababa well over a century ago. Ethiopians, of course, will never forget the role that British forces played in Ethiopia’s fight against fascism during the Second World War and the sacrifices they made in support of Ethiopian independence. Ethiopia’s relationship with the UK today continues to be among the most dependable, mature and mutually beneficial of any that it has with other countries.

The two countries collaborate on a number of issues of common concern, forming a sound basis for their relations at the bilateral, regional and global levels. At the regional level, both countries aspire to see a stable and secure environment in the Horn of Africa. Both are keenly aware of the importance of working together to ensure peace and stability in the region in general and in Somalia, in particular.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and Prime Minister Theresa May during the 2017 London Somalia Conference

At the global level, both countries have collaborated closely on issues ranging from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to the campaign against Climate Change and the common fight against terrorism. The governments of both countries have been active in various global fora dealing with these issues. This has been particularly true of their partnership and cooperation at the G8 and G20 – a true example of the win-win cooperation possible between developed and developing nations.

On the bilateral level, the partnership between the two countries has led to effective development cooperation that has been steadily growing over the last decade and a half. As clearly demonstrated by its unwavering development support and commitment to spend 0.7% of GDP on aid, the UK has been and remains one of Ethiopia’s most dependable partners in its fight against poverty. Ethiopia is, today, the second largest recipient of UK development support after India. Furthermore, of the total development aid that Ethiopia receives from the UK, nearly 80 per cent of it goes to the provision of social services such as education and healthcare and other direct development-related activities.

Successive governments in the UK have demonstrated a conviction that their development cooperation must bring about clear transformation in the lives of beneficiaries. The UK’s Department for International Development uses what it calls the “value for money” standard to determine whether there is a correlation between the support they provide to recipient countries and the outcomes registered. In this regard, Ethiopia’s pro-poor policies over the last 25 years have demonstrated that this is indeed the case. As a clear example of the extent to which Ethiopia’s policies are in fact paying dividends, the UK government has expanded its development work with the Ethiopian government through its support for the country’s industrialisation drive and growth through greater trade, investment and job creation.

In a more fundamental level, the relationship between Ethiopia and the UK is an excellent example of the level of maturity that any such relationship can attain if it is based on clearly spelt out and mutually beneficial principles. Furthermore, both countries continue to share a common vision of the kind of well-ordered global society that can ensure social justice, peace and prosperity.

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