Ethiopia Hires U.S. Lobby Firm

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The Ethiopian Embassy in Washington DC has signed a three-month contract, worth 130,000 dollars, with a U.S. lobbying firm Barnes & Thornburg LLP.

The Indiana-based law firm will assist the Embassy in arranging meetings with U.S. government officials on matters of interest to the Embassy and assisting in strategic planning and advocacy.

As a pre-requisite of U.S. law, the contract documents were filed with the U.S. Department of Justice on June 30, 2020.

The documents which were first leaked to the Daily News Egypt, a daily Egyptian newspaper, show that the agreement was signed between Fistum Arega, Ambassador of Ethiopia to the U.S., and Craig S.  Burkhardt, a partner in Barnes & Thornburg.

Barnes & Thornburg, established in 1982, is a large U.S. law firm and lobbying group with 14 offices located in the United States.

The firm that had been hired by 62 clients in 2020 so far, for a total amount of 2.9 million dollars, is currently the second-largest law firm in the state of Indiana, and 90th largest in the United States

In its lobbying activities, the firm assists clients in federal government relations needs, including advocating for client interests with members and staff of the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Executive Office of the President, and the Office of the Vice President, as well as numerous federal agencies.

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Though the leaked contract documents don’t specifically mention lobbying works related to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the Daily News Egypt reported that Ethiopia hired the firm to step up its influence with the U.S. administration over the dam.

Last week, the U.S. State Department announced it would cut 130 million dollars in foreign assistance to Ethiopia over the construction of the dam.

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