Ethiopia–India relations

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India–Ethiopia relations
Map indicating locations of India and Ethiopia



Ethiopia–India relations have existed for almost two millennia. Modern diplomatic relations between India and Ethiopia were established at the level of legations in July 1948, after the indepedence of India. The relationship was raised to the ambassadorial level in 1952.[1] India maintains an embassy in Addis Ababa and Ethiopia in New Delhi. The two countries have enjoyed close and friendly relations with India supporting Ethiopian developmental efforts while Ethiopia has supported Indian interests such as its claim to a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.[2] India and Ethiopia share a common understanding on such issues as cross-border international terrorism, the need and direction for reform of the United Nations, and the importance of action on climate change.[1]


Trade and people-to-people contacts have existed between India and Ethiopia for almost two millennia beginning at the time of the Axumite Empire. Indians traded in silk, spices, gold and ivory with the Ethiopians in the 6th century and Portuguese assistance to the King of Ethiopia in the 16th century saw the arrival of people from Goa in Ethiopia. British interventions in Ethiopia in 1835 to free European diplomats imprisoned by Emperor Tewodros II under General Robert Napier and in 1941 that ended the Italian occupation both involved large contingents of Indian soldiers who fought as part of the British commanded forces.[3]

Ethiopia has also been home to a sizable Indian diaspora consisting of traders and artisans who settled down there in the latter half of the nineteenth century. During Emperor Haile Selassie's reign a large number of Indian teachers went to Ethiopia which has led to the development of significant goodwill towards India among the Ethiopians.[3] The Siddi community on India's western coast are thought to be of Ethiopian descent.[4]

Political ties[edit]

During the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, Jawaharlal Nehru made a stirring call for solidarity with Abyssinia, noting that "We in India can do nothing to help our brethren in distress in Ethiopia for we are also victims of imperialism but we stand with them today in their sorrow as we hope to stand together when better days come".[4] Upon India's independence in 1947, it sent a goodwill mission to Ethiopia and diplomatic relations were established the following year. In 1950, the countries formalised their diplomatic ties and Sardar Sant Singh was appointed India's first Ambassador to Ethiopia.[5] The two countries have since exchanged several visits at the level of Heads of State with Emperor Haile Selassie, Col. Mengistu Haile Mariam and former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi paying state visits to India. Presidents S. Radhakrishnan and V V Giri, Vice President Zakir Hussain and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have led Indian state visits to Ethiopia.[3]

Ethiopia's ties with India were especially strong under Prime Minister Meles Zenawi who was supportive of India seeing India's growth as beneficial to Ethiopia's own economic growth.[2][6] Ethiopia's present Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and the country's first lady have both been educated in India.[2] The second India-Africa Forum Summit was held at Addis Ababa in May 2011 which was attended by as many as 15 Heads of States of various African nations. This was also the first time India was hosting such an event abroad.[7]

Economic relations[edit]

Bilateral trade and investment[edit]

Trade between the two countries amounted to $660 million in 2011-'12 and is expected to reach $1 billion by 2015.[8] Indian exports to Ethiopia consists of drugs and pharmaceuticals, steel, machinery, food items, plastic and linoleum products, paper, textiles, chemicals, transport equipment and steel. India's imports from Ethiopia include raw hides and skins, pulses, oil seeds, spices, leather and scrap metal.[9]

India is Ethiopia's second largest source of Foreign Direct Investments with investments amounting to $5 billion. Indian investments in Ethiopia are expected to be worth $10 billion by 2015 with India approving investments worth $4.78 billion in 2011.[10][11]

Economic cooperation[edit]

India and Ethiopia signed a Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement in 2007 and a Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement in 2011 to promote mutual trade and investments.[12][13] At the Second India Africa Forum Summit, the then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced a $300 million line of credit to help revive the Ethiopia-Djibouti rail route.[6] This project however went to Chinese construction companies following delays on the Indian side in sanctioning the funds.[14] The Duty Free Tariff Preference scheme that was announced at the summit allowing for imports from Least developed Countries into India has however had a positive impact on bilateral trade with the value of Ethiopian exports to India now reaching $120 million. The balance of trade however remains in India's favour.[5] India has also extended $710 million in lines of credit to help in rural electrification and the revival of the sugar industry in Ethiopia.[15]

Technical cooperation[edit]

India has agreed to cooperate with Ethiopia in the agricultural sector for the development of the meat and dairy sectors.[16] To build human resource capacity, India trains Ethiopian diplomats and trade negotiators under its Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme.[6] The Indian Army is involved in training and developing a manual for the Ethiopian Army.[2] The Pan-African e-Network project that India has undertaken to link African nations with each other and to India was launched on a pilot basis first in Ethiopia in 2007.[17]


  1. ^ a b "Ministry of Foreign Affairs - MoFA". Archived from the original on 2014-07-15. Retrieved 2013-02-06.
  2. ^ a b c d "Former Ethiopia PM Meles Zenawi helped extend India's footprint in Africa". Times of India. August 22, 2012. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  3. ^ a b c "India - Ethiopia Relations" (PDF). Ministry of External Affairs, India. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 May 2013. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  4. ^ a b "Manmohan invokes flour and power in pitch to Ethiopia". The Hindu. May 27, 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  5. ^ a b "New heights to Ethio-India relations". Capital. 30 January 2012. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  6. ^ a b c "Come and farm our virgin lands, Ethiopia tells India". The Hindu. May 26, 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  7. ^ "Manmohan aims to rescript India's relations with Africa". HT Mint. May 22, 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  8. ^ "'India-Ethiopia relations second to none'". Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  9. ^ "India-Ethiopia Commercial Bilateral Relations". The Embassy of India Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Archived from the original on 16 March 2013. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  10. ^ "Orderly transition in Ethiopia, business ties with India to grow : Envoy". Yahoo News. 30 August 2012. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  11. ^ "India approves $4.78 bn investment in Ethiopia". Indian Express. May 22, 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  12. ^ "India, Ethiopia to sign BIPPA on Thursday". The Times of India. July 4, 2007. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  13. ^ "India signs pact with Ethiopia to avoid double taxation". The Hindu Businessline. 27 May 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  14. ^ "India's complacency leads to Chinese takeover of huge Ethiopian rail project". The Telegraph. June 21, 2010. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  15. ^ "Ethiopia seeks investments from India". The Hindu Businessline. 30 January 2012. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  16. ^ "India, Ethiopia to work closely on agri research". Hindu Businessline. 14 December 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  17. ^ "Africa: Pan African e- Network: a model of "South- South cooperation"". Pambazuka News. 24 April 2009. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 17 January 2013.