Posted : 2013-06-23 19:29
Updated : 2013-06-23 19:29

Ethiopia wants preferential tariffs

Korean and Ethiopian dignitaries cut ribbons in celebration of the first Ethiopian flight to touch down at Incheon International Airport, June 19. Second from left is Ethiopian Ambassador Abdetta Dibaba; and Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus, third from right. The flight had a 160-man delegation from Ethiopia onboard consisting of business representatives and government officials. They stayed in Korea for five days promoting investment in and trade with Ethiopia to Korean businesses.
/ Yonhap

By Kim Se-jeong

Ethiopia's vice trade minister called on the Korean government to offer preferential tariffs on his country's exports as way of expanding bilateral trade.

"For more Ethiopian products to enter Korea, Korean assistance is of paramount importance," said Yakob Yala, vice minister of trade, during a business forum held in Seoul, June 20.

An Ethiopian diplomat with insider details of the commercial relations between both countries said his country is looking for an arrangement similar to the European Union's "Everything but Arms" policy.

This policy initiative is designed to give duty and quota free access to the EU's market for goods originating from least developed countries, except for arms.

The EU launched the scheme in 2001 to encourage trade activities of nearly 50 least developed countries. He added that the minister raised the issue with Kim Jae-hong, deputy minister of trade industry and energy, during a meeting.

The ministry in Seoul said the matter will be discussed with relevant ministries and agencies before reaching a decision.

Minister Yala was part of the 160 Ethiopian delegation consisting of government officials representing trade, industry, tourism, education and science and technology ministries, Ethiopian Airlines and business representatives. Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus led the delegation to Korea.

The last time a large delegation of Ethiopians came to Korea was during the Korean War (1950-53) when more than 6,000 Ethiopian soldiers were part of the multinational U.N. Command mandated to repel the North Korean invasion of South Korea.

The one-day forum was attended by 400 participants representing Korea's academia, business and the tourism sector.

The delegation flew in the maiden Ethiopian Airlines flight which touched down at Incheon International Airport June 19.

As one of the biggest airlines in Africa, Ethiopian Airlines now connects Incheon and Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, four times a week with a 45-minute stopover in Hong Kong for refueling.

Korea and Ethiopia have cordial bilateral relations.

During a meeting with his counterpart Yoon Byeong-se, Foreign Minister Gebreyesus requested Korea's support in fighting terrorism and piracy in his region.

He also urged Korea to increase its development aid and to help in the training of diplomats at a diplomatic academy to be opened in two years in Ethiopian.

Commercial activities are the main pillar of the bilateral relations.

The trade volume between both countries reached $133 million last year.

Coffee beans, sesame seeds, beans, leather, flowers and spices are the main Ethiopian export commodities to Korea, while it imports clothes, medicines, automobile tires, batteries, cell phones and used-cars from Korea.

Korea is not one of the country's major trading partners.

The delegation was also seeking to partner with Korea's construction industry to improve its infrastructure. Korean construction companies have in the past executed projects there such as Samwhan Corp. and Samsung. LG has opened a vocation training center.

Also, the Korean Industrial Zone outside the capital is to open in July to host Korean investors.

On Saturday, the entire delegation went to Chuncheon, a city symbolizing the "blood ties" between Koreans and Ethiopians.

The city was the fiercest battle field for the Ethiopian troops during the war.

A war memorial was erected commemorating the fallen soldiers, and nearby is Ethiopia Bet, a coffee house, selling authentic Ethiopian coffee and showcasing arts and crafts including the portrait of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I.

He visited Chuncheon in 1968 for the unveiling of the memorial, and promised a cultural house.

Three delegates — Col. Melese Tessema, Col. Yilma Aliyou Yasin, and Capt. Aklilu Desa ¡©— were Korean War veterans.

There is high optimism of the future of the bilateral relations of the two sides.

"With direct flights to Korea, the bilateral relations will further deepen," said minister Gebreyesus.

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