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16.09.2004 General News

Ghana, Equatoral Guinea sign trade agreement

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From Gideon Sackitey

Bata, (Equatorial Guinea) Sept. 16, GNA - Ghana and Equatorial Guinea have struck a Trade Agreement covering various sectors of Commercial Cooperation towards mutual benefit towards the two nations. The Agreement followed two days of intensive discussions at the Second Ghana-Equatorial Guinea Permanent Joint Commission for Cooperation in the mainland capital of Bata, 400 kilometres South East of the Island of Malabu, formerly Fernando Po, which took place from September 14- 16,2004.

The two countries signed an agreement, which covered energy cooperation, education, health tourism, air and maritime transport. The other areas of cooperation are agriculture, commerce and consular affairs. The two countries also adopted a tentative agenda for further cooperation. Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom, Minister of Energy led an 18-man Ghanaian delegation, including representatives of industry and the private sector.

Briefing Journalists after the signing ceremony, Dr Nduom said Ghana requested the purchase of crude oil at concessionary prices from Equatorial Guinea and in return the sale by Ghana of refined petroleum products to Equatorial Guinea at concessionary prices. "The discussion finalized pricing and delivery dates of 450,000 barrels of crude oil. In return Ghana will return 26 to 27 per cent of the refined products at reduced rates."

Dr Nduom said these would be done in two weeks to finalize fresh cargo of crude oil, the initial stage of an agreement that would enable Ghana receive regular supply of crude at reduced rates. Equatorial Guinea, which discovered oil in 1992 produces 80,000 barrels of crude oil a day and is ranked third after Nigeria and Angola as the major oil producers in Africa.

Dr Nduom said the meeting was held in a spirit of good cooperation, describing the meeting as highly productive as it enable both sides to reach various points of social and economic partnership. He said it was agreed that the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) and its Guinean counterpart GE petrol, would explore avenues for cooperation in the petroleum business. "GNPC's V-SAT facility would also be put at the centre of cooperation between the two countries." He mentioned the involvement of the private sector, education and language sectors as the areas that need urgent attention and collaboration. It is important for the private sector for instance to take a look at the opportunities in Equatorial Guinea and begin to lay groundwork for exploiting them.

"I am anticipating that with the support of the AGI and the Ghanaian Consul in Malabu, a trade delegation will visit soon and hold a trade show to exhibit our potential and skill in development. The two sides also signed an agreement for the award of scholarships to each other's students and the institution of an arrangement to improve the welfare of students studying in each other country. Commenting on the Meeting, Dr Nduom stressed that it was important that the various sectors in Ghana and Equatorial Guinea work at implementing all the agreements that were signed, adding, " all the work and effort we are making now will be of no use if implementation is not carried forward to the letter."

He said it was the wish of the Equatorial Guineans for Ghana to return the favour of expertise in cocoa production. Tetteh Quarshie, is reputed to have returned from Fernando Po with cocoa seeds which over the years has become Ghana major export earner.

The Guinean side led by Mrs Victoriana Nchama Nsue Okomo, Equatorial Guinea Secretary of State for International Cooperation, assured Ghana that the Ghanaian companies would be free to explore their market and introduce their products such as gas cylinders, lubricants, gas stoves, among others, where feasible. She called for cooperation with the Electricity Company of Ghana towards power generation, mining and hydrocarbons. Equatorial Guinea depends heavily on power from generator plants, which according to them is proving consistently unreliable and expensive.