Can Eritrea Deepen Its Trade Relationship with Djibouti

It is ranked as one of the world’s most repressive countries according to Freedom House. An open letter has been written to President Isaias Aferwerki of Eritrea congratulating him on normalizing relations with neighboring Ethiopia. And there has also been a challenge issued to open up his country in terms of political freedoms and civil rights. In an effort to reap maximum benefits from their new partnership, Ethiopia has shut down activist groups opposing Aferwerki’s iron-fisted rule inside its borders.  Aside from a chorus of voices urging Eritrea to open up, the other major challenge is for Asmara to deepen its trade relationship with Djibouti. Eritrea and Djibouti agreed to normalize their relations in September 2018.  However there are significant issues that pop up in respect to Eritrean exports

According to export data in 2017, the bulk of Eritrea’s exports was Zinc Ore, Copper Ore, and Precious Metals Ore. These three exports made up 96% of Eritrea’s exports. Exports from Eritrea showed that the country main partners were China, South Korea, and Spain. These three countries accounted for 93.2% of Eritrea’s export dollars. China was the single largest trading partner at 58%. This over-dependence on China places Eritrea in a vulnerable position possibly hindering development with neighboring Djibouti. One exception to its exports was Sudan at 1.6%. However, at the present time, Sudan is embattled in turmoil over military takeover of the government and an open-ended strike by the opposition.

Eritrea’s main agricultural products include sorghum, millet, barley, wheat, legumes, vegetables, fruits, sesame, linseed, cattle, sheep, goats, and camels. Its agricultural output of sorghum, wheat, legumes and fruits matches what Djibouti imports so this is definitely a factor that should be looked into.


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