Business News of Monday, 18 March 2013

Source: Graphic Business

Ghana, Lebanon sign trade agreement

Ghana and Lebanon have signed a bilateral trade agreement which seeks to promote trade, political and cultural relations between the two countries.

The three-year (2013-2015) agreement has set out guidelines for promoting co-operation in commerce, banking, industry, agriculture and tourism between Ghana and Lebanon.

Besides trade, the two countries also affirmed their resolve to support the United Nations (UN) and other international bodies to bring lasting peace to the Middle East.

The discussions that preceded the signing of the agreement were led by President John Dramani Mahama and the visiting President of Lebanon, General Michel Sleiman, who was on an official visit to Ghana.

Ghana's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ms Hannah Tetteh, signed the agreement on behalf of Ghana, while Lebanon's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Mr Adnan Mansour, initialled it for his country. The signing ceremony was witnessed by the two Presidents at the Flagstaff House, Kanda in Accra on Saturday.

Also present were Vice-President Paa Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur; the Deputy Prime Minister of Lebanon, Mr Samir Moqbir, and some ministers of state of Ghana and Lebanon.

Speaking at a joint press briefing after the signing ceremony, President Mahama said the agreement marked an important step towards strengthening relations and promoting trade between Ghana and Lebanon.

"The signing of the agreement is a historic engagement that will move relations between Ghana and Lebanon to a new level,” he said. He said Ghana and Lebanon shared the same values and aspirations in democracy, good governance and the rule of law.

Besides, he said, there was a significant Lebanese population in Ghana "who have become part of our culture and history" and indicated that Ghana had contributed troops to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

President Mahama said since Ghana and Lebanon were poised to strengthen their relations, it was important for the two nations to have a platform in terms of a framework agreement to guide their cooperation.

He gave an assurance that Ghana would strategise and work out the modalities for the effective implementation of the demands of the agreement and expressed the hope that Lebanon would also do same.

“Cooperation and development are achievable if both parties show commitment," he said. Commenting on peace in the Middle East, the President said there was the need to settle the issue between Israel and Palestine to promote peace. He affirmed Ghana's commitment to support international efforts at fighting terrorism.

In his remarks, President Sleiman said the bilateral trade framework agreement would promote cooperation between Ghana and Lebanon in various fields. He said the agreement would encourage more exchange of experience and engagements with the chambers of industry.

President Sleiman said the commitment by the two countries to fight terrorism and organised crime was significant and indicated that Lebanon had made a pledge to support efforts to end conflicts in parts of Africa and the Middle East.

He said there was also the need for a coordinated effort by the international community to stop the lingering conflict in the Middle East. President Sleiman said that Ghana-Lebanon relations at the political level were very high and indicated that Ghana was one of the important countries which had contributed troops to Lebanon.

For instance, he said, in 1978, it was a Ghanaian who was the commander of the peacekeeping mission in South Lebanon.