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General News of Tuesday, 14 November 2000

Source: Panafrican News Agency

Ghana, Equatorial Guinea Discuss Cooperation

A permanent Joint Commission of Ghana and Equatorial Guinea is drawing up a legal framework in Accra for economic and bilateral Co-operation aimed at improving living standards in both countries.

Equatorial Guinea, endowed with oil, tropical wood and eco- tourism resources, is represented by a 19-member delegation led by Don Lucas Esono Mbang, minister of Information, Culture and Tourism.

Ghana, which boasts of a relatively developed industrial base for production and processing of cocoa, gold, oil and other mineral resources, has 30 members, led by Yaw Adjei, supervising director of Economic and Political Department of the Foreign Ministry.

Ghana Communications Minister, John Mahama, minister of Communications, who inaugurated the Commission Tuesday, said economic integration of the sub-region holds the key to development, especially in the era of globalisation.

"The so-called third world countries, especially those in Africa, have been increasingly marginalised in the new international, political and economic order because of the inherent weaknesses in our economies," he said.

"Globalisation and liberalisation pose tough challenges for us. We must face those challenges and overcome them to operate effectively in a highly competitive and harsh environment where the developed countries jealously guard their advantages in their unending quest for wealth and power."

Mahama, who emphasised Ghana's commitment to promote regional and sub-regional integration, urged African countries to draw lessons from Europe where integration at various levels has expanded trade and improved the well being of citizens.

"It, therefore, behoves us also not to be complacent about our modest individual achievements, but to pursue our efforts at integration more diligently and pool our resources in more cohesive and coherent collaborative efforts," he said.

He recalled the exchange of visits by Presidents Obiang Guema Mbasogo and Jerry John Rawlings in 1997 and August 2000 respectively, saying these visits culminated in the inauguration of the Joint Commission.

The minister urged members of the commission from various sectors, including petroleum, banking, environment, health and industry, to consider co-operation in other areas such as science and technology, trade and investment and education.

Adjei recalled that Ghana's relations with Equatorial Guinea date back to the last century when Tetteh Quarshie brought cocoa from Fernando Po (now Bioko), the largest of the islands in Equatorial Guinea, back to Ghana.

Cocoa is Ghana's most important export crop.

"The similarities in our agricultural products should enable us to exchange information on the techniques of production and processing of these products," he said.

He said Ghana hopes that its efforts at achieving sub- regional integration and economic union with a single monetary unit would strengthen South-South Co-operation.

Esono Mbang said South-South Co-operation would help meet challenges of globalisation, confront poverty and promote sustainable development.

He called for coherent and harmonised efforts and the sharing of resources to achieve these goals.

The framework will be completed on Wednesday.

Equatorial Guinea is in the Gulf of Guinea off Western Africa. It consists of several islands and a mainland, covering an area of 10,831 square miles.

Its main crops are cocoa, coffee, banana, rice and yam. It has seven provinces with Malabo as the capital.