Yemeni Ethiopian relations: Historical overview [Archives:2003/654/Opinion]

July 28 2003

By Yasser Al-Mayasi
Yemen and Ethiopia are closely related since ages, as the various links between the two countries started since ancient times due to the proximity of location and relative similarities of cultures. Two-way migration used to and still to an extent takes place between the two countries and this has lead to exchange of cultural, social, civil and economic aspects of life.
More accurately speaking it could be said that the turning- point in the history of this relationship could be dated back to the creation of the Aksum Kingdom in Ethiopia as an extension of Sabaean and Himiarite Kingdoms in Yemen.
In recent times, the political connection goes back to the first bilateral agreement signed between the two countries on 24th March 1934 where each country agreed to delegate its representatives to each country as consulates exchange that actually took place in the early fifties of the last century.
After the Yemeni revolution in 1962, bilateral relations were established between the republic and Ethiopia in 1968 and a first trade agreement was signed by them. Since then many similar agreements were concluded, protocols, agreement memorandums in various aspects of life. The total number of agreements signed between the two countries between 1968 and 2002 mounted to 59 agreements.
In 1979 Yemeni-Ethiopian joint government committees were established for economic, scientific, technical and trade cooperation. Eight regular courses were conducted in both Aden and Addis Ababa in the following years.
Following the Yemeni unity in 1990 and the democratic front for Ethiopian peoples assumption of power in Ethiopia, many great opportunities opened up for both of Yemen and Ethiopia to expand their relations and strengthen their economic and trade ties. Thus in December 1992 the Ethiopian prime minister visited Sana'a, during which both countries signed an agreement for establishing the Joint Higher Committee, an agreement of trade cooperation, a memorandum of understanding, a protocol for technical and scientific cooperation in energy and a protocol for agricultural cooperation were also signed by the two sides.
Official visits followed hence on particularly following the visit of Yemeni Prime Minister Dr. Abdulkareem Al-Iryani to Addis Ababa in April 1998. the Higher Committee was promoted to a Joint Ministerial Committee that held its first session in Sana'a in 1999 when it had signed a number of documents, an agreement on economic, scientific, technical and trade cooperation, an agreement on encouraging and protection of investment and a number of agreements and protocols.
The second session was held in Addis Ababa in 2001 where 11 documents were signed, among them avoiding dual taxation, cooperation agreement between Yemeni and Ethiopian News Agencies and a memorandum of understanding in the field of population and urban planning.
The latest session had been held in Sana'a in July 2002 which concluded in signing 3 documents and an agreement including technical and vocational training as well as two memorandums, one pertaining to investment and the other to livestock and livestock products trade.