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France and Ethiopia

Political relations

France and Ethiopia maintain high-quality political relations. as can be seen in the numerous bilateral visits between the two States.


Franco-Ethiopian dialogue is progressing:

  • Visits to Ethiopia by the President of the French Republic: 25 May 2013 (50th anniversary of the Organisation of African Unity); 30 January 2011 (African Union Summit); Visit to France by the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed: 29 October 2018 (invitation by Emmanuel Macron)
  • Visits to France by the former Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn: December 2015 (COP21); 6-7 December 2013 (Élysée Summit for Peace and Security in Africa); 18-19 April 2013 (working visit);
  • Visits to Ethiopia by French ministers: Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs (June 2018); Minister of the Environment, Energy and Marine Affairs (February 2016); Minister of State for Foreign Trade, Promotion of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad (December 2015); Minister of State for Development and Francophonie (April 2015); Minister of Foreign Trade (20-21 December 2013); Minister Delegate for Development (7-8 July 2013); Minister of Foreign Affairs (January 2013);
  • Visits to France by Ethiopian ministers: Minister of the Environment (December 2017, One Planet Summit); Minister of Education (November 2017, UNESCO General Conference); Minister of Transport (March 2016 and January 2017); Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy (December 2015, COP21); Deputy Prime Minister (November 2014); Minister of Justice (April 2014); Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Civil Service (May 2013); Minister of Foreign Affairs (April 2013 and December 2013); Minister of Transport (January 2013);

Economic relations

Relations between France and Ethiopia have grown denser over the last five years. France had a structural trade surplus of €791.6 million for 2017. Ethiopia thus became France’s third biggest market and has the largest trade surplus in sub-Saharan Africa.

In 2017, French exports reached a record high of €832.1 million. They are focused on two main sectors: transport equipment (56% of sales) and pharmaceuticals (22%). French imports from Ethiopia dropped slightly from 2016 and stood at €40.5 million in 2017. Eighty-five percent of them are agricultural products (mainly raw coffee).

France is among the main European investors, after the United Kingdom, Italy and the Netherlands. The roughly 30 companies working in Ethiopia employ nearly 3,000 people.


France’s bilateral cooperation with Ethiopia is focused on higher education and the teaching of French. French cultural, educational and research institutions (French Lycée Guébré-Mariam, Alliance Ethio-Française, French Centre for Ethiopian Studies) have been in Ethiopia for a long time, which has made France a well-known contributor to Ethiopia’s development.

The French Development Agency (AFD) has been involved in Ethiopia since September 1993 and, since 2010, has mainly provided sovereign loans. To date, the project portfolio totals about €330 million, €304 million of which is in the form of loans mainly in the sectors of transport, water and sanitation, energy and urban development. However, since 2016, Ethiopia’s external debt has prevented the AFD providing sovereign loans (the Lagarde doctrine).

As a secondary partner in the area of defence, Ethiopia is becoming aware of the interest of developing our bilateral cooperation. This cooperation mainly concerns French language education for military officers, ad hoc training programmes, support for the growing influence of Ethiopia’s International Peacekeeping Training Centre and a number of joint activities with French forces stationed in Djibouti.

Updated: 12 December 2018