Ghana has long had an outsized presence on the diplomatic stage. This can be seen not only in the country’s role in multilateral organisations, but also in the strategic way it has cultivated links with some of the world’s largest economies.
History Of Pragmatism
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the nation’s diplomatic missions abroad are tasked with advising the government on foreign policy issues and securing policy objectives, and they do so according to Article 40 of the 1992 Constitution. The article directs the government to ideals enshrined in the UN, the African Union, ECOWAS, the Commonwealth and the Non-Aligned Movement.
The policy of non-alignment extends back as far as the First Republic, since which time Ghana has taken a pragmatic outlook in seeking diplomatic and economic cooperation with other countries, both those in the East and in the West.
Ghana’s relations with its old colonial power, the UK, are extensive. Ghana was the UK’s fifth-largest export market in sub-Saharan Africa in 2014. This is despite an 18% decrease in bilateral trade between the two countries over the course of the year. Not only does Ghana have a large diaspora population resident in the UK, but many British businesses have a long history in the local market, and new entrants continue to establish themselves in sectors such as oil, finance and telecommunications.
The US established diplomatic relations with Ghana as soon as it achieved independence from the UK in 1957. Since then, the US has worked closely with Ghana to promote democracy and on human rights matters, as well as on a range of defence and law enforcement issues. The two countries operate a bilateral International Military Education and Training programme, a Foreign Military Financing programme, and a number of other defence and security partnerships. Economic ties are also strong, with bilateral trade reaching $1.35bn in 2014, and major US firms such as IBM, Coca-Cola and Newmont Mining establishing operations in the country.
While Ghana continues to enjoy fruitful connections with the West, recent years have seen it strengthen its links to the emerging economies of the East. China and Ghana established diplomatic relations in 1960. As the economies of both countries have expanded, the economic ties that bind them have superseded the assistance programmes in importance. In 2014, bilateral trade between the two countries reached nearly $5bn.
Chinese companies have invested heavily in Ghanaian projects over recent years. Chinese funding has been instrumental in a number of key energy and power projects, including the 400-MW Bui Dam and the gas-processing infrastructure for the country’s flagship Jubilee hydrocarbons field.
Cultural and educational activity has also blossomed over the past decade, with China establishing the first Confucius Institute in Ghana in 2013.
India is an increasingly important trade and investment partner, having enjoyed good relations with Ghana since it gained independence, with ministerial visits and trade shows between the two countries regular calendar events. Bilateral trade between the two countries passed the $1bn mark for the first time in 2011 and by 2014 had reached $1.4bn. A substantial Indian community of around 10,000 exists in Ghana, and cultural relations remain strong, with Indian events staged by the local mission.
Other emerging economies, such as Brazil, have also risen to a new prominence within Ghana’s foreign relations horizon. However, the country’s non-aligned stance continues to ensure that its links to the outside world remain broad, as is demonstrated by the foreign direct investment (FDI) data for the close of 2014: in the last quarter of 2014 the largest contributors to FDI to the country where the Netherlands, China, Canada, South Africa and France.
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