The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchway (MP), last Monday received two envoys at separate ceremonies at her office in Accra.
The two envoys were the Ambassador designate of Switzerland to Ghana, Mr Philipp Stalder, who presented his open letters to the Foreign Minister, and the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Ghana, Mr Sungsoo Kim, who came to pay a courtesy call on the Foreign Minister.
Receiving Mr Stalder’s open letters, Ms Botchway congratulated the Ambassador designate on his appointment, and noted that Ghana was currently Switzerland’s largest trading partner in sub-Sahara Africa with approximately $2 billion worth of trade.
She, however, observed that gold and cocoa alone constituted over 95 per cent of Ghana’s exports to Switzerland, and urged the two countries to explore more ways to broaden their trading portfolio to include other non-traditional exports from Ghana.
The minister noted that Ghana and Switzerland had enjoyed a long-standing bond of friendship and fruitful collaborations dating back to the 19th century when Missionaries from Basel arrived in the then Gold Coast in 1828 to carry out evangelical work, especially in the eastern part of Ghana.
“The missionaries pioneered many schools and established the first agricultural school in the country.
They were credited to have made tremendous effort in the development of cocoa as an export product of Ghana and established a missionary hospital at Agogo, among many others,” she said.
She expressed appreciation for the various types of assistance provided by the Swiss Government, including the $2.6 million Remittance Grant Facility (RGF) signed in May 2017 to help bring down the cost of remitting money to Ghana from 12 per cent of every $200 to five per cent.
Ms Botchway thanked the Swiss Government for the warm hospitality accorded Ghana’s delegation when it visited Berne last month to participate in the fourth round of Political Consultations between Ghana and Switzerland.
The minister noted that relations between the two countries were characterised and reinforced by the regular exchange of high level visits, and recalled the momentous two-day state visit by the then President of the Swiss Confederation, Mrs Doris Leuthard, to Ghana in July 2017 as part of a regional tour which took her to Benin, too.
She also referred to the launch of the new strategic partnership with Ghana during the visit where an amount of 75 Million Swiss Franc was to be made available to Ghana for sector-specific projects.
The minister commended the out-gone Ambassador of Switzerland to Ghana, Ambassador Markus N.P. Dutly, for the good work he did during his tenure, noting that his tenure witnessed a tremendous boost in relations between the two countries.
During her meeting with the South Korean Ambassador, Ms Botchway recalled the strong bonds of friendship between Ghana and the Republic of Korea since the establishment of bilateral relations some six decades ago.
She expressed appreciation for the various kinds of assistance provided by the Republic of Korea in support of Ghana’s development, notably the Capacity Development Farmer-Based Co-operative Organisation and the Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) programme in northern Ghana, alongside a significant number of capacity-building scholarship programmes.
Ms Botchway noted with pleasure the upcoming official visit of the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea, Mr Kang Kyung-wha, to Ghana in July this year.
She welcomed the decision by the Korean Foreign Minister to visit development cooperation programmes such as the Dawhenya Integrated Rural Development project which was rehabilitated by the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), and to launch the Central Regional rice value-chain project and the Korean Tuna Cannery in Tema.
She also welcomed the intention of the Korean government to invite President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to visit South Korea, and mentioned that the visit would go a long way to boost the already excellent relations between the two countries.
The minister expressed appreciation to the Korean Embassy for its proposal to extend the Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) to the ministry for the first time since Ghana reached lower Middle-Income status.
She said this will be in the form of Korean-made vehicles, at an amount of US$200,000 for same, and expressed the hope that the proposal would receive the positive consideration of the Korean Government in its 2020 budget, as it would go a long way to facilitate the ministry’s work.
The foreign minister also had a meeting with the UNICEF representative in Ghana, Ms Anne-Claire Dufay, at her office, and referred to the excellent relations between Ghana and the United Nations, stressing that through the UN specialised agencies such as UNICEF, Ghana was making considerable headway with the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
She recalled that Ghana was the first country to sign the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) 30 years ago, and indicated that tremendous progress had since been made to promote the rights of children in the country through the enactment of the Children’s Act 1998.
Ms Botchway commended UNICEF for its commitment towards realising the rights of the child towards survival, development and protection, and working cordially with the government of Ghana to address key issues of concern faced by the Ghanaian child.
She expressed appreciation to UNICEF for the various initiatives undertaken in support of Ghana’s development efforts, including reducing the mortality rate of children under the age of five in the last decade due to improved immunisation, micro-nutrient supplementation, malaria prevention and treatment of diarrhoea.