From: Beatrice Akua Asamani, GNA Special Correspondent, Doha - Qatar
Doha, May 13, GNA - Ghana has signed four agreements with the oil-rich country of Qatar towards the establishment of trade, investments relations and deeper economic ties as part of the State visit of Vice President Aliu Mahama to the Gulf-State.
Ghana's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Akwasi Osei-Adjei, signed two of the agreements, which forms the framework for the establishment of a Joint Permanent Commission and stronger governmental cooperation with the Qatari Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ahmed Bin Abdullah Al Mahmoud.
The President of the Ghana Chamber of Commerce, Mr Solomon Abam Quartey signed the other two agreements for the establishment of a Joint Business Council and cooperation with the Qatar Chamber of Commerce. Mr Muhammad Bin Twar Al Kawari signed for the other side.
In an interview with journalists after the brief ceremony at the Foreign Ministry at Doha, the Qatari capital, Mr Mahmoud expressed optimism for prosperous economic and bilateral relations with Ghana. He said his country was desirous of doing business with African countries, but was concerned about the safety of investments.
However, Mr Mahmoud said Qatar believed in the prospect of Ghana as a safe investment destiny, saying with those initial agreements, the foundation had been laid for discussions and negotiations that would safeguard the interest of both countries.
"We hope to resolve the issues of protection of investments, double taxation and other impediments, while we make our business community aware that there is a clear legal framework for friendly and viable business," he said.
Mr Mahmoud said Qatar wanted more from its diplomatic relations with Ghana, which started in 1982 and reach out to other African countries. The Gulf State, he said, had strong links with the African Union and would help to promote the objectives of NEPAD.
Mr Osei-Adjei expressed satisfaction with the progress being made in the partnership, "we have opened the doors to explore, listen and learn from each other and we are determined to carry the process ahead for our mutual benefits."
He said Ghana would also take advantage of Qatar's Presidency of the G77 group, of which Ghana is a member, to facilitate the process. A Business Forum attended by a cross-section of Qatari business captains and Ghana's delegation was held earlier to discuss the business and economic opportunities in Ghana.
When Vice President Mahama met the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, on Tuesday, the King expressed his willingness to assist Ghana, mainly through the private sector, to explore natural gas, crude oil, develop its petrochemical industry and boost salt mining. Oil and gas account for more than 55 per cent of Qatar's GDP. The country has proved natural gas reserves exceeding 17.9 trillion cubic metres, more than five per cent of the world's total, thus making it the third largest in the world.
With proved oil reserves of 14.5 billion barrels, the country's per capita income is reported to be nearly as much as that of leading industrial countries in Western Europe. In 2002, the GDP per-capita purchasing power parity was estimated to be 15.91 billion dollars. The delegation of the Vice President includes the Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and PSI, Hajia Alima Mahama and the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), Mr Kwasi Abeasi and other business and Foreign Ministry officials.