By Gifty Arthur
Ghana and Thailand, have held their first meeting on how the two countries, can work together for mutual benefit and also deepen bilateral relations and cooperation in Accra.
Dubbed, “The first Ghana-Thailand senior official meeting”, the one day event was organized under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration and was to among others, further strengthen the relationship between the two countries and also identify new areas for inclusion in the existing spheres of cooperation.
The very important meeting was attended by officials from various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
The meeting which lasted hours, had the Ministry’s Supervising Director, Ambassador Samuel Eddico, leading the Ghana side, while Thailand’s Director General of Department of South Asia Middle East and African Affairs, Jesda Jataveting, led his country’s team of officials.
The two countries have since 2006, signed a protocol to establish a Thailand-Ghana Joint Commission for Economic, Science and followed it with Technological Cooperation in August 2008, agreeing to establish a Joint Trade Commission to boost the flow of businesses.
However, despite these agreements, they failed to take advantage of them to enhance bilateral cooperation.
Ambassador Eddico, who expressed regret over these lost opportunities, said since Ghana and Thailand, have successfully worked together on the international platform, the many years of relationship would be extended to economic partnership for the benefit of their people going forward.
He said, Ghana having embarked on a nation-wide industrialization programme like the One District One Factory and also modernized agriculture with its flagship Planting for Food and Jobs, as well as the much touted “Ghana Beyond Aid” programmes to build wealth inclusive sustainable empowered and resilient country, it is desirous to tap into the experiences and best practices of Thailand “In order to benefit the experiences and transfer of technology to guide its development efforts”.
Three thematic areas for cooperation were identified to provide the framework for enhancing the levels of partnership and cooperation. These areas were cooperation in Agriculture, trade, investment and financial cooperation and cooperation in education.
Work, Ambassador Eddico, said started the very moment the meeting ended and said that for the two countries to achieve positive outcomes, they will continue to work together to effectively push through these areas of possible collaboration outlined.
“I entreat both countries to ensure the operationalization of our conclusions. In this regard, I encourage us to form technical working groups in our respective countries that would monitor the status of implementation of our decisions”.
Using Ghana’s selection to host the secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area, he asked increase presence of Thai manufacturing industries in Ghana to take advantage of the continental market being created.
Jesda Jataveting on his part said their partnership with Ghana is among other is to see if they can find something workable and practicable for their private sector. He said his delegation had members of the private sector as well as representatives from the export and import banks, who were willing to invest.
“This time, apart from the private sector, we have representative from export and import banks with us so it shows that we really mean business.This is so because after they realize the potential here, they need to know the details of how to transfer the money, how to make payment and how the government can help them to be more confident that they are not going to lose their moneys for no reason”.
He said, Thailand could offer Ghana the expertise it needs in agriculture but was quick to say that their knowledge in agriculture has got a lot more to do with a lot of things to do than just rice production that they are known for.
“Agriculture, we have developed our sector for long time, and so have gained a lot of expertise, marketing skills to fight the markets for our products. We believe we can share with our African partners. On my part, I have already convinced some of the private sector people to see the need to start something so let’s see how this transpires.
Hopefully we will be able to identify some concrete products. What we want you to think about Thailand is to think beyond rice because in Africa, when you talk of Thailand, is we are exporters of rice. We also have a lot more things to offer”
Some ten countries including Thailand, make up South Asia with 600 million population and Gross Domestic Products (GDP) of 2.6 trillion.
Mr Jataveting, was hopeful that Ghana can serve as a gate way to West Africa and Africa as a whole to explore.
He revealed that, Thailand has a huge jewelry industry worth US15billion being expanded and needs raw materials like gold and silver.
“You can be a gate way to Africa, especially West Africa that will be a good start. Our SMEs can invest as much as US$100million to US$200 million, but we need to show them that, the opportunity is real”.