Following negotiations in early February, the ministers for foreign affairs and water resources of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan met with the Secretary of the Treasury on 27-28 February to continue discussions around the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
The US Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin facilitated the preparation of an agreement on the filling and operation of the GERD based on provisions proposed by the legal and technical teams of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan and with the technical input of the World Bank.
According to a statement issued by the US Department of Treasury, during separate bilateral meetings, the ministers of the three nations shared their comments on the agreement.
The US believes that the work completed over the last four months has resulted in an agreement that addresses all issues in a balanced and equitable manner, taking into account the interests of the three countries.
“This process has built on the prior seven years of technical studies and consultations between the three countries, and the resulting agreement, in our view, provides for the resolution of all outstanding issues on the filling and operation of the GERD,” read the statement.
The foundation of the agreement is the principles agreed between the three countries in the 2015 Agreement on Declaration of Principles (DOP), in particular the principles of equitable and reasonable utilisation, of not causing significant harm, and of cooperation.
Continued consultations on the operation of the dam
The US Treasury stated: “We appreciate the readiness of the government of Egypt to sign the agreement and it’s initialing of the agreement to evidence its commitment.
“We also recognise that Ethiopia continues its national consultations, and look forward to its concluding its process as soon as possible to provide for the signing of the agreement at the earliest possible time. Consistent with the principles set out in the DOP, and in particular the principles of not causing significant harm to downstream countries, final testing and filling should not take place without an agreement.
“We also note the concern of downstream populations in Sudan and Egypt due to unfinished work on the safe operation of the GERD, and the need to implement all necessary dam safety measures in accordance with international standards before filling begins.”
The US Treasury also reaffirmed its commitment to remain engaged with the three countries until they sign the final agreement.
In conclusion, the department said: “We note that a signed agreement on the GERD will be transformational for the region, resulting in significant transboundary cooperation, regional development and economic integration, and improvement in the lives of the more than 250 million people of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan.
“We are pleased with the significant work by the countries over the last four months, which has only been possible due to the strong commitment to constructive dialogue and cooperation.”