Ethiopia, China trade insight

By: Melaku Kinfegabriel – The trade relations between Ethiopia and China dated back (A.D 618- 907), according to the British historian specialized in Ethiopian history, Professor Richard Pankhurst. The countries trade relation grows to the next level in 1970 when diplomatic relations between the countries become formal, it is been growing ever since.

The establishment of the forum China- Africa Cooperation also lead the relationship between African countries and China to grow spontaneously. In 2020 Ethiopia was the 84th export destination to China export and China was the 11th export destination to Ethiopia.



Bilateral trade between the two countries expanded rapidly, and China is currently the country’s top trading partner. Ethiopia gained from China’s zero-tariff policy on agricultural imports, and there was a dramatic growth in its sesame exports to China. China is also a major source of manufactured goods and machinery for Ethiopia.

The bilateral trade between China- Ethiopia in the last five years (2016-2020) is worth USD 16.8 billion, on average USD 2.8 billion per annum. of which Chinese share to the market is about 93%.

Ethiopia imported about 16% of all imported products from the Chinese market, which is about 0.1% of Chinese annual export. The trade between these countries has shown a slight decrease in recent years due to the decreasing value of Ethiopia’s export to the Chinese market.



The major ten Chinese exported products to the Ethiopian market with in the last five years contributes about 75% of imported products from China, of which machinery, electrical equipment, and apparel goods are the major ones. In addition, iron and steel, vehicles, plastic and rubber materials are also among the top ten products Ethiopia imported from China as shown in the chart below.

Ethiopia, China trade insight
China Export to Ethiopia

Ethiopia’s major ten exported products within the last five years contribute 97% of total export to China. Unprocessed agricultural products such as oilseed, raw hides, coffee, tea are the major ones as shown in the chart below.

Ethiopia, China trade insight
Ethiopia, China trade insight – Ethiopia Export products to China