The maiden session of the Ghana-St Vincent and the Grenadines Permanent Joint Commission for Cooperation (JPCC) meeting is underway in Accra.
The PJCC discussions would focus on areas, such as the development of air and shipping lines between Ghana and the Caribbean; the development of stronger tourism and cultural ties and cooperation in agriculture.
The agricultural interest is, particularly, in the production of cocoa and related products, timber (teak), breadfruit and root crops, such as yam and cassava.
Madam Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, is leading Ghana’s delegation for the three-day meeting, while Sir Louis Hilton Straker, Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Commerce of St Vincent and the Grenadines, is leading his country’s delegation.
Other members from Ghana’s side include Mr Ambrose Dery, the Minister of the Interior; Mrs Barbara Oteng Gyasi, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture; Dr Sagre Bambangi, a Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture in-charge of Annual Crops; and Mr Yoofi Grant, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC).
While Mr Caesar, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labour; and Mrs Sandy Peters- Phillips, Permanent Secretary are on the St Vincent and the Grenadines’ side.
It meeting is also expected to centre on the provision and exchange of technical support in the tourism industry, the establishment of the proposed Africa, Brazil, Caribbean and Diaspora Commission (ABCD Commission).
It will also explore the possibility of instituting training and exchange programmes in health and scientific research.
Madam Ayorkor Botchwey said since the formal establishment of diplomatic relations on 1st August, 2008, Ghana and St Vincent and the Grenadines had continued to enjoy cordial bonds of friendship underpinned by shared cultural and historical values.
The establishment of the Joint Commission would, therefore, provide the platform to translate these cordial bonds into collaborative projects and initiatives.
Madam Ayorkor Botchwey noted that the PJCC originated from discussions between the leaders of the two countries when Dr Ralph Everard Gonsalves, the Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, paid an official visit to Ghana in November, 2018.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo also paid a reciprocal visit to the 32-island nation as part of a tour of the Caribbean region in June, 2019.
Sir Straker, for his part, said since the signing of the General Cooperation Agreement in 2018, the two countries had forged deeper relations through the hosting of officials and states visits.
They have a visa waiver agreement, which is yet to be entered into force.
“Let’s work during this period of consultation to identify opportunities, develop synergies and promote lasting bonds of friendship and paternal ancestry routes that consolidate our cooperation,” he said.
“Our bilateral linkages can provide benefits in the sectors of agriculture, education, tourism, culture, industry, health and security.”
He expressed his gratitude to Ghana, and the rest of Africa, for their support during the election of his country as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for a two-year mandate.
He said St Vincent and the Grenadines looked forward to having a direct connection between Africa and the Caribbean; adding that, there was the need for a direct air route from the Caribbean region to Africa.