Minister Sherlock visit to Ethiopia to highlight trade and investment opportunities
DUBLIN, Ireland, March 13, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The Minister of State for Development, Trade Promotion and North-South Co-operation, Seán Sherlock, TD, today departs on a three day visit to Ethiopia, as part of the Government's “Promote Ireland” initiative to mark St. Patrick's Day.
Minister Sherlock's visit will combine trade and investment engagements with visits to a number of Irish Aid funded initiatives which have a commercial or private sector focus.
Speaking ahead of his departure, Minister Sherlock said:
“Ethiopia is expected to be among the 20 fastest growing economies in the world this year and has great potential for Irish companies looking for mutually-beneficial investment opportunities. Our current bilateral trade with Ethiopia is already in the region of €20 million per year.
“During my last visit to Ethiopia in November alongside President Higgins, I signed a Double Taxation Agreement between Ireland and Ethiopia, as well as a bilateral Air Transport Agreement which will pave the way for a new Ethiopian Airlines route.
“With direct flights between Dublin and Addis Ababa due to start from June of this year, there is huge potential for boosting trade, investment and tourism between Ireland and Ethiopia.”
On Sunday 15th, Minister Sherlock will witness the operation of the first mobile money transfer service in Ethiopia, known as the M-BIRR service. This initiative has been a beneficiary of Enterprise Ireland's High Potential Start-Up scheme. The Minister will also visit Irish Aid funded consortium which provides passion fruit, mangoes, mandarins and other fruits to the Irish-Dutch company, Africa Juice, for export.
“These two initiatives are excellent examples of how the private sector can support economic and social transformation in Africa, bringing financial services to very rural under-served areas through M-BIRR and by boosting Ethiopia's export sector with Africa Juice”, Minister Sherlock said.
On Monday 16th, the Minister will visit the Ethiopian Commodities Exchange in Addis Ababa where he will ring the bell marking a new transaction. Irish Aid provided initial start up funding of €400,000 to the Ethiopian Commodities Exchange as part of a broader effort to improve livelihoods in rural communities.
Highlighting Ireland's long term development assistance to Ethiopia through Irish Aid, Minister Sherlock said:
“Ethiopia is one of Ireland's Key Partner Countries and last year we provided over €25 million in assistance to the poorest and most vulnerable sections of Ethiopian society.
“The projects I will visit show how Irish Aid is engaging with the private sector as a catalyst for Ethiopia's development.”
Minister Sherlock will also visit World Food Programme (WFP) warehouse in Adama, from which food aid which is transported to Gambella in south-west Ethiopia before being air-dropped into South Sudan. Ireland recently provided €750,000 to WFP as part of a wider contribution to the humanitarian relief effort in South Sudan, including assistance to refugees in neighbouring States such as Ethiopia.
On Monday, 16th March, Minister Sherlock will meet with the State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Berhane GebreChristos, to discuss the outline of a 20-year roadmap for Irish-Ethiopian relations, and the Post-2015 sustainable development goals.
Minister Sherlock will round off his visit as guest of honour at a St. Patrick's Day reception in Addis Ababa expected to be attended by some 300 guests from the diplomatic, development, business and Irish communities.