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Shared outlook is manufacturing a win-win, setting good example

By Yan Dongjie in Beijing | China Daily | Updated: 2018-01-15 13:32

Chinese investment has been turning Ethiopia into a manufacturing hub in Africa and helping its economy to sustain double-digit growth for over a decade, the Ethiopian ambassador said.

Berhane Gebre-Christos, who became the top Ethiopian diplomat in China in November, believes that the relationship between the countries is a win-win for both and is a good example for Africa and the rest of the world.

Berhane Gebre-Christos

"Africa is changing rapidly. China's engagement in Africa has been positive," he said.

One model of the cooperation between the two countries is the industry zones, which have been pushing forward Ethiopia's economy.

Three of them are operating in Ethiopia, and 15 more are being constructed by the Ethiopian government and Chinese companies.

"We believe this is not enough. We need to do more. We are working very closely with China," Berhane said.

The Eastern Industry Zone, located near Addis Ababa, has attracted investment from more than 20 Chinese firms, including Huajian International Shoe City PLC, which employs at least 1,500 Ethiopians and 300 Chinese, making women's shoes for export to Europe and the United States.

Companies from Turkey, India, Brazil and other parts of the world also landed in the industry zones, but the number of Chinese companies has been growing significantly since the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in December 2015, Berhane said.

"Chinese companies have a good understanding of our situation. In terms of fundamental outlook, China and Ethiopia share the same views, especially when it comes to development," he said.

Another industry zone, developed by China Civil Engineering Construction Cooperation in Hawassa, started operation in 2016. Berhane said that it aims to create 50,000 jobs and generate $1 billion a year.

"We want to make Ethiopia an industrial hub in Africa. China has been very supportive, encouraging companies to invest in Ethiopia," he said, adding that the Ethiopian government provides convenience in visa application, customer clearance and infrastructure facilities to investors.

The Ethiopian economy has been growing with double digits for the last 14 years, reducing poverty by 55 percent, Berhane said. In addition to China's support, the vision of the ruling party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, the country's developing strategies and the people's commitment contribute to the success.

The Ethiopian government, similar to what China does, makes five-year plans for economic development. Berhane said that the country is in the second phase of the Growth and Transformation Plan, which aims to develop Ethiopia into a low-level developed nation within 30 to 35 years.

Berhane travels frequently in China. He has visited Nanjing, Hangzhou and Chongqing for forums and meetings, promoting Ethiopia to Chinese companies.

yandongjie@chinadaily.com.cn

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