THE Canadian government this week appointed Mr. Dominique Rossetti, the Chargé d’affaires to Sudan, as its first non-resident ambassador to Eritrea.
Ambassador Rossetti presented his letter of credence to President Isaias Afwerki on Thursday (09).
Prior to Ambassador Dominique Rossetti’s appointment, Canada was represented by an Honorary Consul in Asmara. The Eritrean embassy in Washington DC was responsible for Canada with a consulate in Toronto.
However, after Canada expelled the Eritrean diplomat and threatened to close the consulate last May following coordinated campaigns and concerted media pressure on alleged “extortion” and “intimidation” of Eritrean – Canadians against the voluntary 2% Recovery and Rehabilitation Tax (RRT), relations between the two countries remained frosty.
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Eritrea deny any wrong doing in its methods of levying the tax. According to Eritrea, those who do not wish to pay the 2% RRT, in accordance with the provisions of a national law, must naturally shoulder the explicit consequences spelled out in relevant regulations of enforcement and contrary to the allegations, these measures are not and cannot be described as “extortion” and “intimidation” by any standards.
Sources closer to government, however, informed TesfaNews that the Eritrean government has designated a new diplomat to Canada as the Canadian government showed interest to discuss and iron out the issue of the 2% RRT once and for all.
For the record, Eritrea is the only African country that stopped accepting Aid from Canada ever since 2005. However, two-way merchandise trade between the two countries has shown a tremendous growth from $2.9 million in 2010 to $161.4 million in 2013 mainly to Canadian gold and silver imports.
According to the Canadian government, Eritrea is Canada’s largest source of gold in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Vancouver-based Nevsun Resources is one of the largest foreign investors in Eritrea through its Bisha mine, which became operational in 2010.
The trade volume between the two countries is expected to increase threefold in the coming years as a second Vancouver-based mining company Sunridge Gold is set to enter production starting next year.
Taking, therefore, a wider and more comprehensive diplomatic and political approach to Eritrea is more to the interest of both countries.