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The Minister of Trade and Industry of Ghana, Alan Kyerematen, took part in the International Economic Forum: Perspectives of economic growth in West Africa’, held in the Canary Islands, Spain, on April 19, 2018.

The meeting, attended by ministers and senior officials from Morocco, Mauritania, Ghana, Senegal, Cape Verde and Ivory Coast, together with the Director of Economic Affairs of the African Union Commission, René N'Guetia Kouassi, was organised by the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation, the regional government of the Canary Islands and Casa Africa, with the collaboration of the Organisation for Co-operation and Economic Development (OECD). 

The forum arises in a context in which both the Spanish Government and the Canary Islands are committed to strengthening relations with the African continent, with special interest in the West African coast. The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation, Alfonso Dastis, stressed that the African continent is one of the major priorities of Spain`s foreign policy, which has led the government, during the current term, to take important steps to strengthen its relationship with Africa and, in particular, with the sub-Saharan region, highlighting the role of West Africa. 

In this regard, the Minister said that “being aware of the new reality of the continent, we are redesigning our strategic approach to the region based on our accumulated experience and our growing weight in Africa". 

The new framework of Spain`s relations with Africa will be reflected in the III African Plan, in which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation is working on, with the aim of being more effective in defending our interests while also contributing to the development and growth of the African continent. 

Spain will continue to co-operate with the countries of West Africa to achieve an inclusive and sustainable economic development for the benefit of the two. 

Ghana was one of the countries invited to the forum in recognition of its leadership role in the ECOWAS and its favourable economic perspectives, being one of the fastest growing economies in Africa and globally, with a growth rate expected to reach 8.3% in 2018, according to the World Bank. 

Mr Kyerematen briefed the audience on the important economic reforms that are being implemented in Ghana, and outlined the main policies and flagships programmes in the context of the Ghana beyond Aid agenda. 

Mr Kyerematen also chaired a panel discussion on agroindustry and logistics, and held a bilateral meeting with Minister Dastis to discuss ways to further strengthen bilateral economic and commercial ties, as well as exchange views on business opportunities and the presence of Spanish companies in Ghana. 

During the forum, the OECD and other participants highlighted that after decades of low economic growth and dragging the cliché of being one of the regions most neglected by globalisation, most of the countries of West Africa maintain a constant average growth of 5% per year for 10 years. 

In addition, trade between West Africa, with 400 million people, and the rest of the world continues to grow, and infrastructure development projects to achieve better internal connectivity are advancing firmly from the ECOWAS, which is currently studying the incorporation of Morocco and Mauritania to the organisation. 

In a gesture that advances steps towards the promotion of intra-African trade and industrialisation in Africa, the future CFTA will allow the creation of a common market of more than one billion consumers, with an increase of 52% in trade between African countries, a customs union between now and 2022 and an African economic community in 2028.

The director of Casa África, Luis Padrón, mentioned that the dynamism and growth of West Africa is unstoppable, with an already exciting present and a more than encouraging future, and riveted that the current indicators favour confidence in regional integration and the advent of a prosperous and stable future, based on the large infrastructure projects that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has in place, the demographic growth and prospects for increased intra-African industrialisation and trade. Padrón also referred to the recent signing of the agreement to create the African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), which paves the way for the establishment of the largest single market for goods and services since the creation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Fernando Clavijo, President of the Canary regional government, recalled that the European Union encourages the outermost regions, such as the Canary Islands, to integrate into their respective regional spaces. 

In this respect, the Canary Islands constitute a natural platform and a space for co-operation and want to strengthen a cross-border co-operation programme with West Africa with the aim of contributing to the sustainable and inclusive development of the region. 

At 95km from the coast of Africa (nearest point), the Canary Islands have become a link between continents and a base to develop co-operation, economic and commercial ties and cultural exchanges.
Source: The Finder

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