Rex Tillerson with Foreign Minister Workeneh Gebeyehu
Mr. Tillerson spoke with Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Relations, Workeneh Gebeyehu, on mutual matters of interest.
Main discussion points were the security situation in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa, economic ties with the United States and Ethiopia’s path to democratic governance.
Secretary Tillerson stated that the purpose of his trip is to “better understand [how we can] work together as partners to achieve what are really common aspirations.”
In a joint press conference with Dr. Workeneh Gebeyehu, Rex Tillerson mentioned the United States stands firm with its longstanding partner and is intently following events in the East African nation. He praised underway political reform programs being implemented by the government.
“I want to acknowledge this voluntary transfer of power. We think that’s a very powerful symbol to the strength of the democratic process here in Ethiopia, and we think it’s important that the parliament, which has been elected by the Ethiopian people, decide who the next leadership be. That’s the way democracies should perform.”
He also commented on the current State of Emergency and the imposition of restriction on speech and assembly.
“As to the state of emergency, as I indicated, we believe ultimately giving people greater freedom gives them a greater investment in this democracy as well. And so while we appreciate the government’s responsibility to
maintain control and not allow violence to break out and harm innocent people as well who may become victims of violence, it is important that that – that the country move on past the state of emergency as quickly as possible”
Tillerson was asked about American investment in Africa, especially Ethiopia, in light of the meagre returns the Ethiopian people get from investments by American companies. The US Secretary of State responded that more economic reform is needed to attract American companies to invest in Africa.
“There are still economic reform measures that are necessary, not just in Ethiopia, but in other parts of Africa as well, to lower some of the barriers to investment, create greater certainty to outside business investors, strong rule of law, good regulatory processes.
The more privatization of holdings as possible creates opportunities.”
He also hinted at a working relationship between the American Chamber of Commerce and its Ethiopian counterpart to more robustly attract American individuals and corporations to invest in Ethiopia.