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Ports and international trade: Australia, Tanzania and Ethiopia

The Ethiopian government seeks access to the Red Sea and the construction of a port to emphasise its country’s regional influence in the Horn of Africa and expand international trade. However, Ethiopia is separated from the sea by a strip of land owned by Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia. The authorities of these countries are not interested in discussing territorial issues with their neighbours. Ethiopia lost access to the sea in 1993 after Eritrea gained independence following a 30-year war between the two countries. Currently, it is served by the port of Djibouti using the road network and the Addis Ababa–Djibouti railway line.

The government of Tanzania has signed an agreement to manage the port of Dar-es-Salaam, the country’s financial capital, with DP World, a company based in the United Arab Emirates. DP World is to operate four quays of the port located by the Indian Ocean. This agreement has sparked protests in Tanzania for months, leading to dozens of arrests. The opposition and society do not want a foreign logistics company to manage the Tanzanian port.

Australia has agreed to continue leasing the port of Darwin to China’s Landbridge Group Co. The port was leased to it in 2015 for 99 years, but in 2021, the Australian Department of Defense announced that it would analyse the contract and possibly force the Chinese company to withdraw. The decision of the Australian authorities is another signal of warming relations with China.

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