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We must add value to export products through partnerships — Finance Minister

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Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta

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Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta has reiterated the need for Ghana to go into strategic partnerships with developed countries to add value to the country’s basic exports to improve foreign earnings.

He stated that Ghana has exported over US$18 billion worth of cocoa to Switzerland in recent times but the European country controls more than five times the value in the cocoa processing market. This, he said, can be reversed through strategic partnerships to enable Ghana—the primary producer of cocoa to earn significant returns from the commodity.

“The terms of trade are fascinating. We have exported about US$18 billion worth of cocoa to Switzerland and they have turned it into hundreds of billions of dollars. They have given us a grant of US$370 million which we are grateful for, but we need to relook the relationship to benefit us more from trade,” Mr. Ofori-Atta said after the government of Switzerland signed an agreement with the government of Ghana to provide a grant of €20 million to help promote climate change awareness among Ghanaians.

The agreement was signed by the Federal Councillor of Switzerland, Simonetta Sommaruga and the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Kwaku Afriyie. The grant will be used to provide solar lighting systems, cookstoves, and encourage re-afforestation in rural communities of Ghana.

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Giving her speech, Ms. Sommaruga explained that the move follows a similar bilateral agreement that was signed in Ghana over six months ago to create awareness on climate change.

“Switzerland is a global pioneer when it comes to climate protection, setting a standard for international climate projects that respect both human rights and nature,” she said.

She explained that the decision to give Ghana €20 million was aimed at implementing Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which aims at promoting integrated, holistic and balanced approaches that will assist governments in implementing their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) through voluntary international cooperation.

According to the European Union the cooperation mechanism, if properly designed, should make it easier to achieve reduction targets and raise ambition.

On his part, Dr. Afriyie said about 5 million people in rural communities will get the cookstoves to reduce the use of charcoal and firewood. He added that rural communities that are not connected to the national grid will benefit from the solar lighting system. “The other part is government’s ambition to continue with the re-afforestation drive to restore our forest zones. The grant will help Ghana realise that dream,” he said.

The Swiss government also presented the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) country strategy for Ghana– which is a SECO priority country for economic development cooperation. For the 2021-2024 period, Switzerland intends to allocate a total of CHF 65 million for economic development cooperation in Ghana.

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