The relations between Ethiopia and Switzerland are excellent. They are reinforced by different bilateral agreements and regular political consultations. Ethiopia remains a priority country in Switzerland's regional strategy for international cooperation for the Horn of Africa 2018-2021.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Ethiopia
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
In 2014, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed to intensify the bilateral dialogue, which is now taking place every year.
Switzerland has also developed a 2018-2021 regional strategy for the Horn of Africa to coordinate and consolidate all of its activities in the region. This strategy ensures the coherence and effectiveness of Swiss action in the different countries of the region on the one hand, and in regional and multilateral bodies on the other.
The implementation of the regional strategy, of which Ethiopia is one of the priority countries, is jointly ensured by the SDC, the FDFA Political Directorate, the State Secretariat for Migration, the Federal Department of Defence, Civil, Protection and Sports as well as the Swiss embassies present in the region.
Ethiopia is Switzerland's largest trading partner in East Africa and the 11th largest in Africa, with a trade volume of CHF 331 million in 2017. Swiss exports to Ethiopia amounted to CHF 47.1 million. They consist mainly of pharmaceuticals and machinery. Switzerland imported CHF 284 million, mainly gold and coffee. Twenty Swiss companies are present in Ethiopia, including several multinationals.
Cooperation in the domain of education
Scholars and artists from Ethiopia can apply for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI). Specific SDC projects offer further approaches for cooperation in the field of education.
Peace promotion and human security
The 2018-2021 Strategy for the Horn of Africa also includes measures to promote peace and human security.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
The Horn of Africa has been at the forefront of the international focus for decades due to protracted armed conflict, severe food crises and massive displacement. This difficult context causes forced migration and generates large numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons.
However, the Horn of Africa has many assets: a very young population, the presence of powerful systems of mobile telecommunication and money transfer, a large diaspora and a widespread entrepreneurial spirit.
The current Swiss Cooperation Strategy for the Horn of Africa draws on the results already achieved in this region and underlines Switzerland's commitment in fragile contexts.
Switzerland supports the establishment of services and helps to strengthen confidence in public institutions. It is also working to address the root causes of conflict and poverty, which contribute to weakening the region.
Swiss citizens in Ethiopia
At the end of 2017, there were 181 Swiss citizens living in Ethiopia.
The Swiss embassy in Addis Ababa regularly supports the activities of Swiss artists in Ethiopia and proomtes cultural exchanges between the two countries.
History of bilateral relations
Swiss missionaries were active in Ethiopia from the 19th century. Alfred Ilg, an engineer from Thurgau, was an advisor to the Ethiopian emperor, Menelik II from 1878. Ilg had considerable influence on the country’s foreign policy. He was the driving force behind the construction of the railway between Addis Ababa and Djibouti, thus promoting the development of the Ethiopian capital.
Switzerland and Ethiopia signed a friendship and trade agreement in 1933. The two countries strengthened relations following the Italian-Ethiopian War and World War II. Switzerland opened a diplomatic mission in Addis Ababa in 1955 which was transformed into an embassy in 1962.
Switzerland supported Ethiopia during the famines in the 1970s and 1980s.