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France and Ethiopia

Political relations

France and Ethiopia have close relations, as can be seen by the many bilateral visits between the two countries.


Franco-Ethiopian dialogue is progressing

  • Visits to Ethiopia of a President of the French Republic: 12/13 March (State visit of Emmanuel Macron); 25 May 2013 (50th anniversary of the establishment of the Organization of African Unity (AU) – François Hollande); 30 January 2011 (African Union Summit – Nicolas Sarkozy);
  • Visit to France of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed: 29 October 2018
  • Visit to France of 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 for the Environment (December 2017, One Planet Summit), Minister for Education (November 2017, UNESCO General Conference), Minister for Transport (March 2016 and January 2017), Minister for the Environment (December 2015, COP21), Deputy Prime Minister (November 2014); Minister for Justice (April 2014); Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Civil Service (May 2013); Minister of Foreign Affairs (April 2013 and December 2013); Minister for Transport (January 2013).

Economic relations

Relations between France and Ethiopia have grown closer over the past five years. In 2018, bilateral trade between the two nations was €655 million, down 33% on 2017, due to the combined drop in French exports (down 26% to €615 million) and imports (down 5% to €38 million). The trade balance shows a structural surplus for France (€580 million in 2018). Ethiopia is therefore France’s fifth largest market and its second-largest trade surplus in Sub-Saharan African.

In 2018, French exports focused on two main sectors: transport equipment and pharmaceuticals. French imports from Ethiopia have been falling steadily since 2015. They mainly comprise agricultural products (81%) (mainly raw coffee).
France is among the main European investors, after the United Kingdom, Italy and the Netherlands. At the beginning of 2019, 55 French companies were present in Ethiopia, employing almost 4,900 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). However, in order to support Ethiopia’s economic structural reforms, France has undertaken to grant budgetary assistance of €100 million in 2019, to support the World Bank programme, including €15 million in technical assistance.

Once a minor partner in the area of defence, Ethiopia has realized the importance of increasing bilateral cooperation with France. A defence agreement was signed in March 2019 during the visit of the President of the French Republic, enabling a specific legal framework for sending French troops to Ethiopia and vice versa. The agreement will also help increase information sharing and officer training. Furthermore, France has undertaken to support the reconstruction of an Ethiopian navy. Other ongoing cooperation activities will continue, such as French-language lessons for senior military personnel, training and support for the development of the Ethiopian International Peacekeeping Training Center.

Updated: 09.05.19