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20.10.2005 Business & Finance

Jamaica, Ghana negotiate direct air links

By ARLENE MARTIN-WILKINS -Jamaican Observer
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JAMAICA and Ghana are considering plans to establish direct air links between the two countries, in the hope that the initiative would enhance trade and other ties.

The proposal formed part of bilateral discussions at yesterday's opening of the second Jamaica-Ghana Joint Commission meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The two days of talks are expected to cover a wide range of issues aimed at strengthening bilateral ties between the two countries.

"We recognise that trade and cultural links between us would be better enhanced if there are reliable direct air-links between our two countries," said Ghana's foreign minister, Nana Akufo Addo.

He said the relevant officials would deliberate a draft air services agreement during the discussions that are expected to continue today.

Addo, heads a delegation that includes Ghana's tourism minister and its minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines. Both countries are also expected to explore the possibilities of further cooperation in a wide range of areas to include bauxite mining, alumina refining, tourism, health, education, sport and culture.

But yesterday, Addo also expressed optimism that the two days of talks would also serve to rehash decisions that were taken at the commission's inaugural meeting in 1999, but were never implemented.

"The opportunity has been afforded us not only to revive the operation of the Joint Commission, but perhaps also more significantly to ensure that its decisions are this time around implemented so that our peoples can reap the benefits that the Joint Commission promises," he said.

Yesterday, Jamaica's foreign minister KD Knight said the meeting was long overdue, but said its success should not be measured by the amount of activities earmarked for collaboration, but instead by the sustainability of identified projects and their ability to make economic contributions.

"This model of cooperation signifies an important milestone in Jamaica/Ghana bilateral relations, as we seek to identify areas of synergy between us and to inject life into dormant initiatives," Knight said.

"Our ability to succeed in this effort will to a large extent define the next phase of Jamaica Ghana relations."

Yesterday, Knight said he hoped for a renewal of the technical cooperation agreement in health services between the two countries that facilitated the transfer of 23 Ghanian nurses to Jamaica between 1999 and 2003.

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