Sun | Jul 21, 2019

Jamaica and Ghana implement visa waiver to build fraternal bond, relations

Published:Sunday | June 16, 2019 | 11:02 AM
Prime Minister Andrew Holness (right) presents President of the Republic of Ghana Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo with Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee, during an exchange of gifts yesterday at Jamaica House in Kingston.

The governments of Jamaica and Ghana are to implement a visa waiver as part of efforts to build the fraternal bond and take relations between the two countries to greater heights.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness made the announcement yesterday following bilateral talks with Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who arrived yesterday for a two-day working visit to Jamaica.

“We cannot have visas standing in the way of those relations, so the decision has been taken by my Government… to provide visa-free arrangements for Jamaicans in Ghana, and facilitate and make it easier for you to accept our invitation to come and join us for the Year of Return,” the Ghanaian president stated.

Holness said the foreign affairs ministers of both countries have been mandated to negotiate and conclude the agreement.

Akufo-Addo’s visit to Jamaica forms part of a Caribbean tour to promote ‘The Year of Return, Ghana 2019’, which is a major landmark marketing campaign targeting the African – American and the Diaspora market to mark 400 years of the first enslaved African arriving in Jamestown, Virginia.

The Jamaican prime minister noted that the campaign was “central in our discussions” since the initiative presents excellent opportunities to “build on the fraternal bonds and take the relations between our two countries and our peoples to greater heights”.

“We can use this initiative to forge increased inter-personal connections and at the same time deepen the trade and commercial relations between our respective countries,” Holness said.

He said the Ghanaian president’s visit reflects the continued strong bilateral relationship that exists between Jamaica and the Republic of Ghana, and reaffirmed the island's commitment to strengthening and deepening the relations between both countries.

“Our relations are deeply rooted in our ancestral and historical connections, forged over many years and only made stronger by our firm democratic traditions, shared principles and vision for peace and prosperity, and the cultural affinities which unite our peoples,” he said.

The prime minister said he and the Ghanaian leader engaged in fruitful discussions to strengthen the partnership between both countries, to secure increased development opportunities.

He noted that discussions also focused on important bilateral matters and in particular, measures to improve trade and investment and the movement of people, goods and services between the countries.

“We also discussed the excellent opportunities for cooperation in other areas such as energy and mining; sport and culture; as well as tourism, education and training,” he said.

In his remarks, Akufo-Addo stressed that it is now time to “give teeth” to the longstanding relations between Jamaica and Ghana “by making sure that the various areas of engagement in education, tourism, cultural activities are specifically tied down”.

“The relationship that we are forming here in Jamaica, will form part of this process of solidifying the relations between those of us on the continent of Africa and those of you in the Diaspora outside Africa,” he continue.

As part of his schedule of activities yesterday, the Ghanaian president was led on a tour of the Seville Great House and Heritage Park in St Ann.

Today, he meets with the leadership of the University of the West Indies, Mona. He will also give a floral tribute at the shrine of National Hero Marcus Mosiah Garvey.

The Ghanaian president will conclude his visit today with remarks at the official opening of the 8th Biennial Jamaican Diaspora Conference at the Jamaica Conference Centre.

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