With stability in Somalia now in the horizon, the present government has laid out its strategy on ties with other nations
The Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) has outlined its first foreign policy since assuming control of the state about four years ago.
Two decades of civil war before then had deprived Somalia of an organised government, leaving it without a recognised foreign relations plan. With stability now in the horizon, the present government has laid out its strategy on ties with other nations.
The foreign policy is anchored on five interlinked areas of diplomacy: Peace and Security, Diaspora, Socioeconomic Development, Sustainable Environment and Cultural Promotion and Preservation.
The President of the Federal republic of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohamud describes the policy as people-focused, saying it is aimed at creating economic empowerment and nurturing peaceful coexistence to promote national ambitions. “Due to increased levels of poverty, social isolation and lack of political representation during our difficult recent history, the Somali people, particularly the youth, who are two thirds of our population, became vulnerable to political and religious manipulation and even misguidedly accepted policies and practices that were harmful to their long-term interests. Improving security, creating economic opportunities and opening the political and social space for the inclusion of the people in the decisions that will determine their future is the surest way of empowering our people to be responsible for their own destiny,” he said.
The government plans to create an enabling environment to encourage domestic, diaspora and foreign investors, who will be closely involved in the creation of a “best possible investment environment”. The government also hopes to create a closer partnerships with the Somali Diaspora in order to draw on their skills and expertise for national socio-economic development.
Lack of access to foreign capital limits Somalia’s current account financing options, mostly to foreign direct investment (FDI), heightening exposure to unpredictable project finance.
The current account deficit was 7.2 per cent of GDP in 2013 and 6.6 per cent in 2014. It comprised a trade deficit of 38.7 per cent of GDP, net income of –8.9 per cent of GDP, and net current transfers (including remittances, off-budget grants, and direct donor support) of 40 per cent of GDP.
The size of the current account deficit is associated with the external vulnerability Somalia faces in the very short to medium term. Long-term flows, including FDI of 4.2 per cent of GDP and capital flows of 3.0 per cent, financed the current account deficit in 2013.
The Diaspora have been playing an equally crucial role in Somalia with remittances. They are estimated to have sent more than US$1.3 billion home in 2014—nearly twice the level of development aid (US$642 million) and five times the humanitarian support (US$253 million).
Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke said the new foreign policy provided a broad-based framework for Somalia’s foreign relations and diplomatic engagements within a globalised environment.
“Through our foreign policy, Somalia seeks to safeguard and promote regional and international peace and security, and protect our sovereignty and territorial integrity. Somalia will promote sub-regional and regional integration in pursuit of socio-economic and political interest, as well as emphasise intra-African trade as the cornerstone of Africa’s political and social-economic unity for mutual progress,” Mr Sharmake said in a statement.
The development of the new foreign policy was led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Investment Promotion.Somalia hopes to use the foreign policy to entrench its independence among the partners it engages with in trade and other bilateral relationships.
“As an independent and sovereign nation, Somalia wishes to be an equal partner with its neighbours and seeks to be a catalyst for regional cooperation. Somalia attaches great importance to good relations with its neighbours, in particular immediate neighbours Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya, as well as other IGAD member states,” the policy states.
Decades of armed conflict and war undermined Somalia’s ability to have constructive relations with its neighbours. This is meant to change as peace continues to thrive and stability slowly returns.
Somalia sees regional cooperation and economic integration as the best means to reduce tension, resolve conflict and succeed in the competitive markets of the global village. The policy emphasises the country’s commitment to join the East African Community (EAC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). It also outlines the countries plan to strengthen ties with the Islamic states and the European Union in the fight for peace.
“Strengthening relations with the Islamic states constitutes a priority for Somalia’s Foreign Policy. As a Muslim country, Somalia places special importance on its relations with all other Islamic countries.
Somalia views the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as one of the best venues for pursuing solutions to many challenges, including underdevelopment (in particular, in the fields of research and education), inter-and intra-state-conflicts, fanaticism and Islamophobia,” the policy document outlines.