BERN, Switzerland, May 6, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter, head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), received Ms Hanna Serwaa Tetteh for an official working visit at the Maison de Watteville in Bern. The talks focused on relations between Switzerland and Ghana and economic cooperation. Security in this region of Africa and various current international issues were also on the agenda for discussion.
Ms Tetteh’s official visit is the first by a Ghanaian foreign minister to Switzerland. In 2010, the President of Ghana, John Evans Atta Mills, was received in Switzerland for an official visit. The two countries have had long-standing good relations based on mutually beneficial exchanges. Ghana is one of Switzerland’s three main trading partners in sub-Saharan Africa and is Switzerland’s most important supplier of cocoa and second biggest supplier of pineapples. Given the volume of cocoa imports (approx. 90% of total imports) Switzerland has been running a trade deficit for several years with Ghana, which is one of Switzerland’s priority countries of economic development cooperation. The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) has earmarked CHF 90 million for Ghana for the years 2013 to 2016.
To strengthen their relations, Switzerland and Ghana signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Wednesday on the occasion of Ms Tetteh’s visit. The text institutionalises regular political consultations which will make relations between the two countries closer and more structured. The head of the FDFA also proposed developing closer relations between Switzerland and the Economic Community of West African States, which comprises 15 countries from this region.
In addition, Mr Burkhalter and Ms Tetteh addressed various current regional and international issues. Specifically they discussed the security situation in Ghana’s neighbouring countries that are threatened by Boko Haram. Mr Burkhalter expressed Switzerland’s concern about the activities of this terrorist group. The Ebola epidemic was also discussed. Mr Burkhalter emphasised the need to coordinate efforts to eradicate the disease and explained Switzerland’s commitment in this field.
Lastly, at the international level, the head of the FDFA and the Ghanaian foreign minister discussed the Ukraine crisis and the challenge it presents to European security, as well as the humanitarian assistance required to help in particular the people of Syria and Iraq. The two ministers also talked about cooperation between the two countries within the United Nations, in particular the important decisions to be taken in 2015 concerning the objectives for the post-2015 sustainable development agenda as well as the importance of sustainable development and the fight against poverty.
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