Accra, Oct. 20, GNA - Ghana and Jamaica have agreed to engage in a broad range of economic, social and cultural activities following the reactivation of the Ghana-Jamaican Joint Permanent Commission for Cooperation.
The two countries have also agreed to have direct air links between them and to strengthen their trade links. Documents made available to the Ghana News Agency on Friday on the opening of the second Session of the Ghana-Jamaican Joint Permanent Commission in Kingston, Jamaica on Thursday said since the inaugural session in Accra in 1999, the Commission became dormant while decisions taken at that First Session had not been implemented. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Minister of Foreign Affairs is leading Ghana's delegation, which include Mr Jake Obestebi-Lamptey Minister of Tourism and Modernisation of the Capital City and Professor Dominic Fobih, Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines and officials of the Foreign Ministry.
The Ghana-Jamaica Permanent Joint Commission for Cooperation was rekindled last July when President John Agyekum Kufuor visited Jamaica at the instance of Prime Minister Perceval James Patterson. Nana Akufo-Addo noted that Ghana arrived at the session prepared to engage in issues including mining, with particular attention to bauxite mining and alumina refining.
"We are also looking at the promotion of tourism and the potential of the Joseph Project, collaboration in the fields of education and health delivery, exchange of initiatives in women's and children's affairs, the development of cultural and sporting exchanges and the generation of greater bilateral trade and investments in our two countries."
He said Ghana would deliberate on a draft cultural agreement between Ghana and Jamaica and a bilateral trade agreement between the two countries.
He also called for greater political consultations over the issues that would arise in the common bodies to which Ghana and Jamaica belong, notably the Commonwealth, the Non-Aligned Movement, ACP, UN and the cooperation between ECOWAS and CARICOM. The Foreign Minister said following the successful changeover in government, Ghana had and would sustain its commitment to democratic norms.
"It is the goal of government to transform the national economy so that our nation attains middle income status within the next decade, with a minimum per capita income of at least 1,000 dollars." Government, he explained, accepted that these objectives could not be attained unless the country sought strategic partnerships. Nana Akufo-Addo said it was important for peoples of African descent to come together to defend and advance their interests to ensure that the African peoples and the African Diaspora gained the places of dignity and respect in the global community that was their due. "Hence the Joseph Project, which seeks to unite the peoples of African descent in order to make the 21st century the African century. This is for us the significance and importance of the work of the Joint Commission."
Mr K. D. Knight, Jamaica's Minster of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, welcomed the session adding that Jamaica enjoyed a mystic connection with Ghana "etched in the collective memory as the place from which our ancestors originated.
"The task of deepening relations between Jamaica and Ghana, therefore, should not prove difficult, given our common historical experience and cultural ties."
Mr Knight thanked Ghana for the 23 Ghanaian nurses sent to Kingston under a technical cooperation agreement in Health Services between 1990 and 2003.
Mr Knight said Jamaica had used her role as Chair of the G-77 and China, to bring some developmental challenges to the attention of the G-8 in the areas of trade, finance and technology. He said the success achieved by developing nations in that respect could be measured in part by the subsequent cancellation of the debt of the 18 most highly indebted poor countries, which included Ghana. Mr Knight noted that Jamaica looked forward to further collaboration between the two countries in advancing the development agenda. He described the cooperation between the two countries in the area of bauxite and alumina production as practical and tangible example of South-South Cooperation.
"This 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." He said: "As the two States explore possibilities for cooperation in areas such as Education, Tourism, Bauxite Mining, Women's Affairs, Health, Sport and Air links, in addition to opportunities in bilateral trade and investment, it is important to translate these into concrete decisions which will inform our future actions.
"I wish to advise that the success of our discussions will not be judged merely by the quantum of activities earmarked for collaboration, but rather by the sustainability of the projects identified and their ability to generate economic development and employment..."