|Speech To The Council On Foreign Relations in New York
February 17, 1967
|Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Members of the Board of Directors, Ladies and Gentlemen:
We should like to begin our remarks to this distinguished gathering of eminent leaders of American
business and industry by expressing our deep appreciation to all the officers and members of the
Board of Directors of the African-American Chamber of Commerce for their kind hospitality and the
opportunity afforded us to meet with you all and to share with you our thoughts and
preoccupations concerning matters which are no less important to the well-being of peoples
everywhere than are the peace and tranquillity which we all endeavour to promote for all nations
great or small.
International peace and security are primary requisites for the economic development and social
progress of the world today; however, the converse is no less true -- that the economic well-being
of peoples advances the cause of international peace, and the key to economic prosperity lies in the
free flow and exchange of commerce and capital among nations. In the unhampered flow of capital
between countries lies the solution to the problems generated by the widening gap between the
economically advanced and the developing nations of today.
It is, therefore, with appreciation that we note that the African-American Chamber of Commerce is
dedicated "to foster United States trade with, and promote United States industry and investment
in Africa." So long as far-sighted people like yourselves, in each nation and community, recognize
the essential interdependence of all peoples in the economic field, as indeed in other areas of
human endeavour; and so long as they realize that there are enormous mutual benefits to be
derived from co-operative economic efforts, there is reason to hope that the world economic
situation will improve and undoubtedly at a greater pace than ever before.
For some time now, and despite earnest efforts on the part of the United Nations Organization and
certain countries, the world economic situation has not been as encouraging as it ought to be.
On the one hand, a small group of economically and industrially advanced countries, notably you
great nation, have achieved prosperity unparalleled in the history of mankind, enabling their
respective peoples to maintain a high standard of living.
On the other hand, by far the vast majority of the nations of today remain economically
under-developed, their peoples subsisting in want and poverty as their normal conditions of life.
In an enlightened age such as ours in which the benefits of scientific and technological
advancement are being brought to bear in almost every sphere of human life, this profound gap
gives rise to anxiety and concern. It is a situation that cannot and must not be allowed to continue
longer. In an era when nations gather in concert to declare each nation's fundamental rights to
freedom and equality, it is dismaying that the great majority of the world's population exists in the
shadow of poverty and misery, often lacking the basic essentials of food and clothing, while their
fellow men in other parts of the globe enjoy a life of abundance, comfort and tranquillity. No
greater victory can be won by the nations of today than the conquest of the apocalyptic enemies
that still ride mankind -- poverty, disease and ignorance.
|A two-pronged action on a global scale appears to provide a realistic approach to the urgent
problems posed by the acute disparity in the world economic situation.
On the one hand, the economically advanced nations have a responsibility, to others as much as
their own interests, to make available to less developed countries their vast capital and
technological resources in which will yield maximum results within the shortest time possible.
On the other hand, it is equally important that the developing nations, for their part, should find
ways and means of attracting foreign capital as well as technical skill, both public and private, in
order to accelerate their economic development.
We in Ethiopia, for our part, are doing our utmost to achieve progress in both these areas. While
our Five-Year Economic Development Plans have laid stress on primary industries, as well as
essential hydro-electric power, irrigation systems and a network of highways, among others, the
entire nation is now engaged in self-help endeavours which are yielding satisfactory results and
contributing to the nation's efforts toward economic advancement and social progress. Within the
purview of sound fiscal policies and other national commitments, we are now engaged in
employing every available resource in the national task of economic development.
On the other hand, we have been seeking foreign capital to narrow the gap between available
resources and full economic development. While we are appreciative of the assistance of
international organizations and agencies as well as a number of friendly governments, we would at
the same time like to refer to steps taken by the nation to attract and encourage private foreign
In addition to giving full assurance of utmost co-operative to prospective foreign private investors,
the government has enacted a most liberal legislation, which has been in effect for several years
now, to encourage private capital. This decree guarantees the rights of potential investors from
arbitrary public expropriation, and provides protective concessions for all those who wish to
participate in our country's development programmes.
It is a fact that Ethiopia is fortunately endowed with vast untapped natural resources, and what We
in Ethiopia seek is the utilization and exploitation of these resources for the benefit of both the
investor and the nation. That a mutually beneficial and happy partnership between foreign private
enterprise and government exists in Ethiopia is clearly attested to by the growing number of
foreign firms which have profitably established themselves in various businesses, while at the
same time assisting in the development of the nation's economic infrastructure. Nonetheless,
Ethiopia desires more private capital investment. Organizations such as yours can do much to fill
this need, while providing benefits for the investors.
|It is a truism that self-help, hard work and initiative are requisites for any nation's economic and
social advancement. Yet it is equally true that there still are outmoded international arrangements
which seriously limit the efforts of developing countries to develop their potential. So long as
there remain impediments to the free flow of international trade; so long as there is no guaranteed
price of primary goods at remunerative level without discrimination, the economic and social
development of the developing nations will remain seriously handicapped. It is in this connection
that the economically advanced nations can render valuable contribution. Such nations could, as
an instance, extend further bilateral or multilateral assistance and waive obstructing arrangements
such as preferential tariffs as well as other protective systems which, in the long run, prove a
disservice to the economic and social progress of developing nations.
The establishment of the UNCTAD and the declaration of the United Nations Development Decade,
in addition to other economic programmes launched under the auspices of the United Nations
Organization, have provided the basis for a solution of the urgent problems of the world economic
situation. Yet, since the recommendations of the UNCTAD and its organs have not so far been
implemented, the prospects for a speedy solution to these problems have not appeared
particularly promising. It is here that the economically advanced countries can make maximum
contribution and thereby help to usher in a great new age, an era of "economic liberalism."
The perpetuation of the status quo will not, in the long run, serve even the narrow interests of the
few, and it will inevitably prove disastrous to the world economic situation. It is, therefore, to be
ardently hoped that the governments of the economically advanced countries will rise to this
challenge and join in a concerted effort to alleviate the world's economic ills which are but the root
and cause of many other international problems.
As I have remarked earlier, private organizations such as the African-American Chamber of
Commerce can do much to help solve present world economic problems by promoting the free
flow of private capital. And it is in this respect that we would like to wish all success to the
endeavours of this organization which stands to help promote the ideals of international peace and
We thank you again, Mr. Chairman, for your hospitality and the opportunity afforded Us on this
occasion to share these thoughts with you.
|Haile Selassie the First - February 17, 1967|