Somaliland seeks open trade with Yemen [Archives:2004/782/Community]

October 18 2004
Ibrahim Othman Yousuf explains benefits of Yemen-Somaliland trade
Ibrahim Othman Yousuf explains benefits of Yemen-Somaliland trade
In a time the Yemeni government asserted on the national unity of eSomalia, specifically in the congratulatory message of President Ali Abdullah Saleh sent to recently elected Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, efforts by prominent figures from Somaliland are being made to enhance direct trade relations with their self-declared independent state.
The case becomes more of a concern with the recent reports that the Somaliland government said it would use force if its borders are threatened after the election of Somalia's new president, whose government is fiercely opposed to Mr Abdullahi who claims two regions within Somaliland belong to Somalia.
But in Somaliland, independent for 13 years but without any international recognition, the election of Mr Adullahi has not been well received. Its government refused to participate in the peace process in neighboring Kenya and has reiterated its sovereignty as an independent state that reclaimed its independence after a period of four decades of unity with the Southern part of the country.
“We remind all concerned that the government and the president elected in Kenya is for Somalia and not Somaliland,” Information Minister Abdillahi Mohamed Du'ale said after the elections.

A delegate from Somaliland in Yemen
Mr. Ibrahim Othman Yousuf, a prominent figure and investor from Somaliland has been sent by the President of his state Mr. Dahir Rayale to Yemen with a letter presented to Yemeni President Saleh urging him to exert more efforts to have direct trade links with Somaliland.
In an interview to Yemen Times, Mr. Othman openly requested that his mission not be seen a call for complete political recognition of Somaliland, which is something he greatly desires, but rather to enhance bilateral trade relations with Somaliland. “There are many possibilities and potentials in cooperation between our two states. I am not demanding that Yemen recognized Somaliland as an independent state but rather to at least help the Somali brothers in this part of the country develop their standard of living by providing them with the means to boost their country's economy.”
This comes in a time some direct trade activities have already started – according to Mr. Othman – as the Yemeni Economic Corporation had signed an agreement around a week ago with the Hargeisa Chamber of Trade to explore potential cooperation in importing sheep from Somaliland and exporting some manufactured goods from Yemen.
“We have made some positive steps in establishing key talks with Yemeni investors and businessmen who seem to be keen to invest in Somaliland.” Othman said.
“I personally believe that the fact that Somaliland is not recognized politically as an impendent state doesn't mean we are not independent. We are an independent people, we have our borders, our currency, our capital, and most important of all, our history as different people from the rest of Somalia.”
“The fact that Yemen doesn't recognize Somaliland as an independent state doesn't mean we cannot work together for the mutual benefit of both parties.” he added.
It is worth noting that Ethiopia is currently the most well-connected country with Somaliland even though it also doesn't recognize it as an independent country.
“We have almost daily flights from Addis Ababa to Hergeisa. The Ethiopian counterpart understood the benefit of having such a flight and I am sure if Yemen Airways thinks about it, they would also take such an initiative.” Othman suggested.
However, in total contrast to the Yemeni unity, Somaliland decided to breakaway from the country in 1991, and in fact was the first country who recognized the self-proclaimed independence of South Yemen during the 1994 civil war, causing the issue of having political relations with Somaliland extremely difficult.
“I understand the sensitivity of the issue of accepting our country as independent, especially by Yemen, but I wanted to raise the issue of possibility to work together in the economic, social, and cultural aspects rather than the political dimension.” Othman added.
It is worth noting that despite continuous efforts to encourage trade relations between Somaliland and Yemen, little has been achieved so far in this respect, and the government of Somaliland is insistent on pursuing new ways to drive the attention of independent investors and thinkers in Yemen to establish links with their counterparts in Somaliland hopefully to help boost its economy and generate income from investments. This becomes a potential case due to the fact that the Breakaway state has been known to be more peaceful and secure than the other parts of the country.