Eritrea in new bid to woo US investors
Until the restoration of ties between the long-time rivals in an agreement signed earlier this month to end two decades of hostility since conflict erupted in 1998, analysts have likened Eritrea to pariah state North Korea noting that it is isolated both diplomatically and economically.
The one-party Asmara government also has an abysmal record on human rights with the United Nations having warned that the degree of repression could rise to crimes against humanity.
“We were out of Agoa for reasons that we do not understand and for reasons that we cannot even accept,” he said. “They were political reasons. We have no political problems with the United States, but the United States has political problems with us.”
Mathewos Woldu, a former advisor to Eritrean President Isaias Afeworki and now a senior economist at the World Bank, seconded that position in his own comments at the Washington session.
“During the last two administrations [Barack Obama’s and George W Bush’s] Eritrea was looked at through the prism and lens of Ethiopia and not necessarily on the maximum of US national security interests,” Mr Mathewos said.
Florizelle Liser, head of the Corporate Council on Africa and previously the top US government trade official for Africa, urged Eritrea to promptly make its case for readmission to Agoa so that it might achieve that certification of good standing by next year.
The end of the bloody conflict that killed more than 80,000 people triggered by a dispute of the Eritrea-Ethiopia border in 1998 has been lauded internationally.
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom, whose country holds the presidency of the UN Security Council for July, said recently that she agrees with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ view that if the reasons for the sanctions no longer pertain, they should be terminated.
The potential for economic growth in Eritrea is enormous, Dr Woldai added pointing out that before war erupted in 1998, the economy was growing at an average of 11 per cent, one of the highest rates in Africa, following its Independence in 1993.