In 2021, Mexico and Ghana commemorate 60 years of the historic decision of the two countries to take the opportunity to jumpstart a remarkable relationship not only among governments, but among peoples aspiring to know more about each other.
After briskly and consistently supporting the decolonization process, Mexico embraced heartfully the birth of Ghana as an independent nation and was the first country in Latin America to establish diplomatic relations with Ghana on the 8th of August 1961.
That moment served well to facilitate an encounter of governments but above all, it underpinned the beginning of a fruitful dialogue between the peoples of two nations separated by distance but united by history and a sheer conviction of peace and prosperity.
Four years later, in 1965, both governments appointed resident ambassadors to Accra and Mexico City, who played a decisive role in exploring areas of opportunity that shaped a vigorous dialogue especially in the multilateral fora. Both countries expressed clearly the importance of international cooperation to boost national development and underscored their unwavering commitment with a rules-based international order, with respect of sovereignty, self-determination and the peaceful resolution of disputes.
Notwithstanding the fact that both countries closed their diplomatic missions in the seventies and eighties, the resolve to continue the bilateral dialogue remained strong. Today we are proud to say that we have been able to consistently build a steady, prosperous, and constructive foundation for our relation during six decades of strong efforts and dedication.
Mexico was able to reopen its Embassy in Accra in 2014 and appointed its first resident ambassador the following year.
Mexico is fully committed to take advantage of the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration of Ghana, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, and the Foreign Secretary of Mexico, Marcelo Ebrard Casaubon, which established a consultations mechanism on issues of common interest to continue building a relation with a strategic value. So far, both countries have held two meetings of the mechanism at the level of deputy minister in 2019 and 2020.
The leadership role that Ghana is playing in the context of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) combined with the pivotal role of Mexico as a key player in the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) ensures that the progress obtained can also have important regional impacts and a multiplier effects.
Mexico and Ghana will coincide in 2022 as elected members of the United Nations Security Council. This will be a great opportunity to project our shared visions on the most relevant topics of the international peace and security agenda.
Since Mexico reopened its embassy in Accra in 2014, several trade missions from Ghana have visited our country, which sparked the interest of the business communities of both countries. The Mexican private sector has identified trustworthy partners to conduct profitable activities in Ghana. Our trade portfolio has expanded considerably and includes a wide array of manufactured goods such as electric accumulators, motor vehicles, malts and of course, our traditional tequila, which is growing in the preference of the Ghanaian consumer.
Ghana is trading its commodities to Mexico in growing numbers. In addition to cocoa paste and powder, the fishing industry is becoming a very active sector in our bilateral trade. Prospects in tourism and energy cooperation are also promising. In line with this renewed dynamic, we have received a record number of Ghanaian visa applicants, mostly business people interested in identifying business opportunities.
As our bilateral trade expands, our governments are working on innovative ways to seize even further opportunities in the agricultural and agro-food sector, in auto parts, textile and garment industries, health and infrastructure.
We are doing so with the firm conviction that Mexico and Ghana need to take advantage of their belonging to two of the most dynamic free trade areas in the world: USMCA that links Mexico with Canada and the United States, and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which is the most ambitious integration endeavour envisioned by African countries. Unquestionably, it gives our two countries the upper hand to identify, develop and engage in productive value chains to boost our regional and world competitiveness.
Regarding our bilateral cooperation, we have witnessed the positive outcomes of the nixtamalization program, which consists on the transfer of the Mexican traditional technique for processing maize to remove the aflatoxins and increase its nutritional value. This project is designed to assist local and small-scale producers, especially women, and to strengthen food security.
Furthermore, an increasing number of Ghanaians are interested in studying in Mexico and their personal experiences could translate into a positive element to multiply opportunities for mutual collaboration. There is also a growing number of Ghanaian students of Spanish language and, in that respect, our embassy in Accra has built an important partnership with the University of Ghana.
The governments of both countries are putting our peoples at the forefront of all our efforts. The strength of our heritage and cultural backgrounds is a significant driver to bring the Mexican and Ghanaian people closer together. There is a growing interest in learning more about our respective cultures and the existing similarities help to close the mutual knowledge gap. For example, Mexican gastronomy is becoming more popular in Ghana and the number of restaurants in Accra that serve authentic Mexican dishes is booming.
Most importantly, Ghana and Mexico share a common heritage through the contributions of the African diaspora, the Afromexican communities and the Mexicans of African-descent to the Mexican history, society and culture.
Therefore, on the occasion of this first 60 years of a fruitful relationship, the government of Mexico congratulates the proud people and government of Ghana. As for Mexico, Ghana is an important global and regional partner. We see the future with optimism, with the certainty that the best years of our friendship are yet to come.
>>>The writer is the Deputy Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Mexico