By Staff Reporter
July 26, 2019 (Ezega.com) -- Ethiopia is finalizing legal documents to use ports of its northern neighbor, Eritrea, authorities of the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs have announced.
The announcement comes amid stalled relations between the two horn African states and the closure of border roads linking them which badly affected residents from both sides.
"We have been looking into the peace and economic agreements signed between the two countries. Preparations of legal docoments on trade relations are nearing to completion. Ethiopia would be using ports of Eritrea shortly soon after preparations of legal packages are completed," Hirut Zemene, State Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia told journalts on Friday in a briefing.
The two countries held ministerial conferences six times early this year and have agreed on peace and security issues, border trade and people-to-people relations. However, there was no development after all the four border crossings were closed in April, a unilateral step taken by Eritrea for no known reason, according to observers.
Responding to the question why their renwed relations have been stalled since many months ago, Hirut said the all-round relations between the two countries have been rather going well. "You can not expect something different from countries whose relation had been hampered for twenty years," she said.
"Regularizing trade between the two nations would help to further cement the exiting relations and economic benefits for the countries," Hirut commented
A final agreement would be reached soon and the trade activities between the two countries would resume, Hirut added.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was in Eritrea last week while the borders remain closed. No information was given from both sides on what is holding up implementation of the peace deal signed last year, nor about the substance of the current bilateral negotiations taking place behind the scenes.
Meanwhile, the ministry said it has managed to repatriate 140,319 Ethiopans who were living in Middle East countries without legal docoments during the past Ethiopian budget year which ended on July 7,2019.
The returnees include 27,704 Ethiopians who were detained in different prison centers, mainly in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.
The authorities further said the ministry is negotiating with the governments of the stated countries to help set free another 4000 Ethiopians who are currently under custody, Dr Aklilu Hailemichael, another state minister disclosed.
According to him, the ministry has also helped thousands Ethiopians recieve salaries which were withheld by their employers.
Ethiopia has managed to attract $1.5 billion from UAE and Saudi Arabia in the form of grant and loan during the stated period, Hailemichael added.
He stated that 168 business forums were organized and 1,150 companies visited the nation. About 225 companies are on process of investing in the country. Ethiopian investors also created business links with 67 foreign investors.