President Park Geun-hye of Korea on a State Visit to Ethiopia this week
The President of the Republic of Korea, President Park Geun-hye, is on a State Visit to Ethiopia this week (May 25-28). The visit has the aim of strengthening bilateral and multilateral ties with both Ethiopia and the African Union. President Park Geun-hye arrived in Addis Ababa on Wednesday (May 26, 2016). During her four-day State Visit to Ethiopia, President Park held talks with President Dr. Mulatu Teshome and met with Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn. She also met with African Union Commission Chairperson, Dr. Dlamini-Zuma and discussed ways to strengthen cooperation between the AU and South Korea. On Friday, President Park also attended the Ethio-Korean Business Summit.
High level bilateral discussions between Ethiopia and Korea were held on Thursday (May 27) to discuss current relations, cooperation agreements and the way forward. During the meeting Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn underlined that the long-standing and excellent relationship between the two countries demonstrated the depth of the ties between them. He said the relationship was not only historic but was also continuing to grow. The Prime Minister noted that Korea was one of the leading countries for the developmental state model and Ethiopia, he said, considered it a specific model for its own development.
President Park Geun–hye praised the warm welcome extended to the Korean delegation and said that she was pleased that her visit coincided with the celebration of Africa Day. She noted Ethiopia had been only African nation that sent troops to Korea during the Korean War. President Park congratulated Ethiopia on the successes of the First Growth and Transformation and noted that the relationship between Korea and Ethiopia was excellent, but she also added that there but there was great potential to be tapped further. She said the wide range of cooperation agreements signed between the two countries would boost their bilateral and multilateral ties and establishing linkages between the institutions of the two countries would further enhance bilateral cooperation.
Ethiopia and Korea signed fourteen cooperation agreements and memoranda of understandings to boost their partnership in a wide range of areas on Thursday (May 27). The ceremony was attended by President Park Geun-hye and Prime Hailemariam Dessalegn. One Memorandum of Understanding was to boost cooperation in the field of information and communication technology and was signed by Dr. Debretsion Gebremichael, Minister for Finance and Economic cluster and Minister of communication and Information Technology with the rank of Deputy Prime Minister, and Yun Byung-se, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Korea. Other agreements covered a 500-million dollar loan framework agreement for the years 2016-2018, a 127-million dollar loan agreement for the Gore-Tepi road construction, and loans from the Economic Development Cooperation Fund for the Year 2016 through 2018; an agreement for air services between the respective territories; and MOUs on cooperation in the field of transport; on cooperation in Saemoul Undong; on cooperation and policy consultation; on textile technology; concerning defense; cooperation in the field of forestry and climate change cooperation in agriculture and rural development; on grant aid programs; and on health care and medical sciences.
After the signing ceremony, the Special Envoy to the Prime Minister, Ambassador Berhane Gebrechristos told reporters that President Park's visit would play a big role in transforming the historic relation of the two countries in the economic sector. The Special Envoy said the President's visit aimed at strengthening the multifaceted relations of the two countries and the agreements would also play a pivotal role in paving ways to knowledge, technology transfer and building of Ethiopia's capacity.
On Friday (May 27) another Memorandum of Understanding to promote cooperation in urban development was signed by the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing, and South Korea's Land and Housing Corporation. Urban Development and Housing Minister, Mekuria Haile, said the agreement is vital for the provision of practical and technical support in areas of urban development such as smart cities, land management, housing development, and other pertinent areas. The Executive Director of South Korea's Land and Housing Corporation, Hyun Do Kwan, said his country wanted to contribute to the urban development of Ethiopia and share experiences on new cities and housing provision as well as industrial complexes. He said South Korea will offer financial support and technical assistance to help Ethiopia use suitable technology.
During her visit, President Park, accompanied by Prime Haile Mariam Dessalegn, also spoke at the African Union Commission Hall on Korea-Africa relations. She underlined the historic relations between Korea and Africa as well as the role of Agenda 2063 in bringing about a peaceful and prosperous Africa. President Park emphasized that the African Union as an institution and Africa as a continent needed trustworthy partners like the Republic of Korea to effectively accomplish the goals of Agenda 2063. She reiterated her assurances of the sustainability of Korea's commitment to provide support and assistance for mutual cooperation and development of Korea as well as Africa and announced the official launch of "A Blueprint for Cooperation between Africa and Korea", to assist in realization of Agenda 2063. The President declared that "Africa's problems are Korea's problems and Korea's are Africa's problems." She emphasized that "Africa's greatest potential lies in its people, especially, the youth and women," and announced that Korea would train 10,000 youth from Africa in the field of ICT to help in the production of a skilled workforce in Africa. The President also announced Korea's continuing support in combatting infectious diseases in Africa. President Park reiterated Korea's enthusiasm to work with the international community in general and Africa in particular to help bring about peace in Africa as well as in the Korean peninsula through continued provision of funds to African Peacekeeping forces, as well as through enhancement of the current cooperation for mutual development.
On Friday (May 27) an Ethio-Korea Business Forum was organized by the Korean International Trade Association and the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations with attendance of business delegations and government officials and others. The Forum heard from the Director General of the Ethiopian Investment Corporation, Fitsum Arega, on the "Economic outlook and opportunities of Ethiopia" and from the Director of the Korea |Expressway Corporation, Mr. HyeOk lee on Cooperation of Infrastructure Development as well as being briefed on cooperation in the textile industry. The Forum was also addressed also heard from Prime Minister Hailemariam and President Park. It was attended by over 250 people including the representatives of over 40 Korean companies. During the forum, the two sides signed four MoUs on business cooperation, investment promotion and capacity building, and the trade and textile industry.