The United Kingdom (UK) will continue with its trade agreement with Ghana under the European Union (EU), although the UK is exiting the continental body, the UK Minister for Africa, Ms Harriet Baldwin, has said.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic in Accra on Wednesday, Ms Baldwin said the UK had always stood for free trade and that although it took a political position to leave the EU, it was committed to using the Brexit as an opportunity for even more free trade with Ghana.
“We have arrangements with Ghana through the EU that give the country very good access to the UK. Obviously, we are planning to, as an interim measure, continue with that approach and use that as the basis to make the political commitment to improve on the trading arrangements between the two countries,” she said.
Ms Baldwin is on a visit to Ghana for a number of official engagements.
As part of her activities, she paid a courtesy call on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at the Jubilee House in Accra last Tuesday.
Again, on behalf of the UK, she signed a memorandum of understanding with the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Alan Kyerematen, under which the UK will give Ghana £20 million to implement a jobs and economic transformation programme.
The expected outcome of the programme, which will be implemented in the next six years, includes economic diversification and trade boost that will deliver 15,000 formal jobs in the targeted sectors.
“We are excited about the opportunities that the future will give to exporters in Ghana and to consumers in the UK and we are committed to making sure that the future would be built on the current position,” Ms Baldwin said.
Ghana Beyond Aid
Sharing her thoughts on President Akufo-Addo’s policy of building a Ghana beyond aid, the UK Minister said in terms of sustainable development and rapid growth in Ghana, “we are announcing this jobs and economic transformation programme to attract more inward investments into Ghana and create jobs for Ghanaians”.
The jobs and economic transformation programme, she said, was going to attract at least £50 million pounds of inward investments and create at least 15,000 jobs in Ghana.
“The jobs and transformation programme show how the UK will adapt its offer in terms of Ghana. One of the things going to happen is that we are going to work with four or five out of the 10 focused sectors of the economy to really line up people who want to invest in Ghana to take advantage of the opportunities that exist here in Ghana, create jobs in Ghana for Ghanaians and help with the strong economic growth that the country has enjoyed,” Ms Baldwin said.
She said Africa, and for that matter Ghana, was a great example of a vibrant, strong economy with a fast-growing and very young population.
It was, therefore, important that jobs were available for graduates after school, she said.
On visa applications by Ghanaian migrants, Ms Baldwin said the UK valued the very large number of Ghanaian visitors to the UK, as it was an indication of the very strong links between the people of the two countries.
“Visas are a very important part of what we process here and we are committed to processing visas within 15 working days,” she said.
She, however, advised Ghanaian visa applicants to make sure that they planned ahead, had all the right paperwork and submitted their applications on time.
She said the UK had carried out an analysis of what caused visa refusals and it was found out that incomplete or incorrect paperwork was one of the factors.
“People must make sure the paperwork is absolutely in order and make sure you allow that 15-day turnaround time. We will strongly encourage people to make sure that they get that paperwork correct and allow enough time because we hate turning down applications because the paperwork is incorrect,” she said.