Relations between Ethiopia and Switzerland are based on several bilateral agreements. Ethiopia is part of the 2022-25 Swiss cooperation programme for the Horn of Africa. It is also part of the Greater Horn of Africa, which is a geographical priority of the Sub-Saharan Africa Strategy 2021–2024.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Ethiopia
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Ethiopia is the second most populous country in Africa, and plays a key role in the stability of the entire Greater Horn of Africa region. It hosts the headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa and acts as a multilateral continental platform.
The Horn of Africa regional cooperation programme 2022-25 aims to ensure the coherence and effectiveness of Switzerland's activities in the region's various countries, as well as in regional and multilateral bodies.
In 2014, a memorandum of understanding was signed to increase bilateral dialogue, which has led to regular political consultations between Switzerland and Ethiopia.
Ethiopia is an important trading partner for Switzerland in East Africa. The Federal Council's Sub-Saharan Africa Strategy 2021–24 prioritises Ethiopia as a lion economy with significant potential. The volume of trade in 2020 was CHF 219. Swiss exports to Ethiopia exceeded CHF 60 million. These consist mainly of pharmaceutical products and machinery. Swiss imports from Ethiopia amounted to CHF 159 million, and mainly consisted of gold and coffee. Around 30 Swiss companies are present in Ethiopia.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers who are citizens of Ethiopia can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships. Various SDC projects also provide a framework for cooperation on vocational education and training.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
The Horn of Africa has been marked by prolonged armed conflict, major food crises and massive population shifts.
The Horn of Africa regional cooperation programme focuses on food security, health, migration and protection in south-eastern Ethiopia. It is implemented jointly by the SDC, the FDFA State Secretariat, the FDJP State Secretariat for Migration and the Swiss embassies in the region.
Swiss humanitarian aid is focused on the crisis in the north of the country.
Swiss citizens in Ethiopia
According to statistics on the Swiss abroad, there were 192 Swiss citizens living in Ethiopia and 2,977 Ethiopian citizens living in Switzerland at the end of 2020.
History of bilateral relations
In 1878, an engineer from Thurgau named Alfred Ilg was appointed by Emperor Menelik II as an advisor. Ilg exerted considerable influence on the country's foreign policy and facilitated the construction of a railway line between Addis Ababa and Djibouti, which contributed to the development of the Ethiopian capital.
In 1933, Switzerland and Ethiopia signed a friendship and trade treaty. Relations between the two countries developed more actively after the Italo-Ethiopian war and the Second World War. Switzerland opened a diplomatic mission in Addis Ababa in 1955, before making it an embassy in 1962.