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General News of Thursday, 21 February 2008

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Bush declines Ghana chocolate

US President George Bush on Wednesday declined an offer for a bar of Golden Tree Chocolates at an exhibition of Ghanaian products targeted at the North American market.

President Bush, on the second day of his visit to Ghana, was at the Trade Fair to see the exhibition of the products including garments, shea butter, handicrafts, jewellery, etc are said to be now selling in retail shops in the United States.

When the President and his wife got to the Cocoa Processing stand, he picked up a bar of chocolate to admire. But when Joy News Israel Laryea asked him if would want to try it, he said, “you know something, I gave up candies and sweets for Lent(the forty-day liturgical season of fasting and prayer before Easter), so I’d try this in twenty-three more days, or whatever it is.”

Amidst chuckling from Israel Laryea and Mr. Bush’s aides and other officials he added, “one of these days I’d try it, but I’m being a disciplined person”, smiling and looking in the wife’s direction.

The story behind the incident however has it that some chocolates meant for the exhibition on the day was picked up by the US secret service and three days prior to the exhibition supposedly for screening.

According to Maxwell Aboagye, a Senior Sales and Marketing Officer at the Cocoa Processing Company in charge of the stand, the chocolates were returned just a few minutes before the US President was due to arrive at the stand.

He says, “I was also told to offer him that particular pack of chocolates that they came for”.

The CPC does not see the incident as a rejection of their chocolates though.

Maxwell says the company currently has its eyes set on a deal to supply the US military with chocolate and cocoa products and that though a deal has not been finalised yet, “plans are far advanced”.

The event was an exhibition of local products currently being exported to the American market under the African Growth and Opportunities Act, AGOA.

President Bush together with wife Laura and other members of the delegation interacted with the exhibitors, selected from amongst some 200 beneficiaries of the initiative which allows some 6400 products from Ghana to enter the US market duty free and quota free.

The Cocoa Processing Company, though already in the US market is being assisted by AGOA to find new markets.

The exhibition was organised by the West African Trade hub, which acts as a broker, seeking shops across America who want to buy from the African market. Between 2005 and 2007, the hub based in Accra and Dakar in Senegal facilitated more than 16 million dollars in exports and 3 million in investment.

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