Ghana urged to join Pacific Alliance

July 20, 2017
Source: thebftonline.com/Ghana
Ghana urged to join Pacific Alliance

The Colombian Ambassador to Ghana, Claudia Turbay Quintero, has urged government to become an observer member of the Pacific Alliance (PA) in order to increase trade activities between the two countries.

According to her, Ghana and Colombian stand to increase trade activities by large volumes if Ghana could become an observer member of the Pacific Alliance - a Latin American trade bloc, comprising of Peru, Mexico, Chile and Colombia.

"We want to develop economic ties with different regions. The PA is very important in our relations with Africa, that is why it is important for the ECOWAS region, especially Ghana to take opportunity of the market available in the four-member countries. Because we want Ghana to be our gateway to Africa and Colombia the gateway to Latin America," she said.

Although the Colombian mission in Ghana was officially opened four years ago, trade between the two countries has been very low, the Ambassador noted.

"We have moved on a slower pace and I think is because of lack of knowledge. We have to build up several things including knowledge and trust. Colombian businesses have to know the business environment in Ghana and Ghanaian investors too have to know the business environment in Colombia, so now these are the areas that we are trying to work on," she stated.

As part of the plans to increase bilateral relations, the Colombian Embassy has over the last few years been sponsoring civil servants across several government agencies to take lessons in Spanish language, in order to improve communication and to facilitate economic activities between the countries.

The Embassy in Accra is used to serve the rest of the West African region, and Ambassador Quintero explained that it is because her country sees Ghana as a very strategic partner for its African agenda, hence the need to operate in the sub-region from here.

"We want Ghana to be the first observer member of the Alliance. Being an observer definitely opens up the opportunity to work efficiently in developing projects together and that is what we are looking forward to," she said.

Commenting on possible areas of corporations between the two countries going forward, the Ambassador assured that plans were underway to strengthen political and economic ties between Ghana and Colombia.

"I imagine Ghana been an active member of the Pacific Alliance. In the coming years, I also imagine Colombia having a good economic relationship with Ghana through the Alliance and I believe Ghana could make a strong entry into Latin America through Colombia," she noted.

"Through our difficulties we have developed experience and that what we are doing with Africa. We don't have money to give but what we have is the experience. All the problems that Ghana is going through today we have gone through them and this is something that gives an us opportunity to work together brothers," Ambassador Quintero added.

She also lauded government for its efforts toward a peaceful environment that is safe for everyone, including visitors, adding that the two can create a better place for their citizens by continuing to collaborate on areas of mutual interest

Areas of corporations between Ghana and  Colombia

Colombia is the 53rd largest export economy in the world and the 58th most complex economy according to the Economic Complexity Index (ECI). In 2015, Colombia exported $37.5 billion worth of goods.

The top exports of Colombia are Crude petroleum ($12.7bn), coal briquettes($5.36bn), coffee ($2.72bn), cut flowers($1.3bn) and gold ($1.3bn). Its top imports are refined petroleum ($5.08bn), planes, helicopters, and/or spacecraft ($2.23bn), cars ($2.1bn), broadcasting equipment ($1.61bn) and packaged medicaments ($1.38bn).

Health

In the area of health, Colombia has one of the most advanced malaria vaccines in the world, called chemically  synthesized vaccines.

Dr. Manuel Elkin Patarroyo, a renown Colombian Professor of Pathology and Immunology, who produced the world's first attempt to create a synthetic vaccine against a parasite -malaria, visited Ghana last month where he met with President Nana Akufo-Addo, the Minister of Health, the Ghana Health Services and the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research  to enable the two countries join forces together in the fight against malaria, using chemically-synthesized vaccines, which are 10 times cheaper than other forms of vaccines.

When it comes to trade, particularly agriculture, Colombia is one of the world's leading producers of coffee and fresh fruits and vegetables.

The Association of Ghana Industries and investors from Colombia are already in discussions to find possible areas of partnerships, with the agriculture sector believed to be one of the prominent areas under consideration.

Culture and creative art

The two countries share a lot of  things in common, as majority of Colombians are afro-descendants.

According to the Ambassador, both countries through their respective Culture and Tourism Ministries are already engaged in culture exchange programmes, with Colombian curators coming down to hold workshops with their Ghanaian counterparts.