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Opinions Thu, 23 Feb 2017

The bilateral talks between Ghana and Britain

As is commonly known, bilateral relations involve the conduct of political, economic and cultural relations between two sovereign states. Such relations are carried out to promote friendship and socio-economic development for the mutual benefits of the two countries.

Generally speaking, Ghana’s foreign policy is usually based on certain broad objectives. The objectives include maintaining friendly relations and co-operation with all countries that yearn for such co-operation, irrespective of ideological considerations, on the basis of mutual respect and non-interference in each other's internal affairs.

Issues discussed at the meeting, which aimed at boosting the already strong bilateral relations, involved matters of mutual interest to both Ghana and the United Kingdom (UK). The discussions focused on improving Ghana-UK trade, matters of common interest in foreign policy and security, as well as ensuring stability of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region. Other areas discussed were business co-operation, especially ensuring that UK encourages it firms to invest in Ghana’s economy.

The UK government is particularly happy about events in Ghana because of issues relating to democracy, good governance, rule of law, as well as the determination of the new government to make life better for Ghanaians just as the British government would also want to improve welfare conditions for its people. Also, matters of security are of great interest because without security, bilateral relations would not have any meaningful impact on the two countries.

It is generally recognised by British business entities that Ghana is a stable place to do business. What Ghana needs to do is to streamline and smoothen out the business regulatory framework in the country to entice investors. Generally, however, many companies from the UK share the view that Ghana’s environment is beautiful and investor-friendly.

This is why the government of Ghana has no choice but to focus on further improvement to make it far easy for companies to do business here. At the same time, it must continue to take strong measures to address or tackle corruption.

Apart from the UK, other countries have demonstrated that they have great confidence in the determination of Ghanaians to deal with their own problems and improve upon the welfare of the people. The world has become a global village and this explains why internationalisation of issues relating to common interests in the form of bilateral and other forms of relations have become a common feature among countries that stand for peace.

Currently, it is estimated that there are 900,000 Africans living in the UK, of which 9,400 people are of Ghanaian origin, including British-Ghanaians. In the same way, British companies have been playing key roles in the Ghanaian economy, notably the oil sector, extractive industries, telecommunications network across the country, the financial sector, the cocoa industry and other areas of agri-business.

In fact, the two countries are cemented by a common bond of employer-employee socio-cultural traits that are mutually beneficial. For example, in 2005, a study carried out by the Sheffield University Social and Spatial Inequalities Research Group revealed that 64 per cent of new immigrants from Ghana were employed in the UK, of which 17 per cent and three per cent were low and high earners respectively.

Ghana-UK bilateral relations have come to stay since the two countries share a common interest of ensuring economic growth for their respective countries. Indeed, the meeting between the two leaders was very significant, seeing that the people of the two countries have been involved in economic relations over the years.

Relations between the two countries are rooted in long-standing economic, political and cultural connections, as well as shared values. Furthermore, the democratic credentials of the two countries have helped in strengthening the links between the two countries, which are committed to fighting for the eradication of disease, poverty, squalor, promotion of bilateral trade and improvement in the welfare of people.

It is important for the two countries to pursue a common agenda towards the promotion of good governance, rule of law, democracy, the eradication of corruption, as well as committing themselves to the enhancement of continuous growth, prosperity and equitable or mutually beneficial trade relations.

No country in the world is an island, so both Ghana and the UK should do all they can to consolidate their bilateral relations for their mutual benefit.
Columnist: Kofi Amponsah-Bediako