Ghana and the Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg (BENELUX) Union have committed to working together to increase trade and economic activities between them for shared interest.
Additionally, they would collaborate to address the challenges, including climate change, food insecurity and migration, as well as tackle the insecurity situation in the West African sub-region.
The two sides made this known in Accra on Monday, when a delegation from the Union held bilateral talks with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, as part of a two-day visit to Ghana.
The visit was meant to refocus diplomatic relations between the four countries.
Formed on September 5, 1944, with a name created using the first few letters of each country’s name, the BENELUX is a political-economic union comprising the three neighbouring European countries.
The delegation was represented by Netherlands’ Minister of Foreign Affairs and the 2023 President of the Union, Wokpe Hoekstra; Luxembourg’s Foreign and European Affairs Minister, Jean Asselborn, and Ambassador and Belgium’s Special Envoy for the Sahel, Bart De Groof.
Held behind closed doors, the bilateral talks which was attended by Ghana’s National Security Minister, Albert Kan-Dapaah, focused on strengthening engagement and the Netherlands’ strategy in Africa; regional security; Russian Federation and Ukraine and migration.
Briefing the media afterwards, Ms Botchwey said the delegation, having been briefed on the security situation in the sub-region, pledged to support efforts to address the issue through the Accra Initiative, an African security mechanism.
On the Russia-Ukraine war, she said, the two sides reiterated their condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, acknowledged the impact of the war on global economies and expressed the hope that the issue would be resolved through diplomatic interventions.
Noting the contributions of the BENELUX companies to private sector growth, job creation and socio-economic development,
Mrs Botchwey called for increased partnership between Ghanaian and BENELUX businesses to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
“I am certain that the outcome of our discussions will contribute to a deepening of the relations that exist between Ghana and the BENELUX Union for the mutual benefit of our peoples. We will continue to work together to bring to fruition the huge potentials and opportunities that exist between our countries,” she said.
On behalf of the Union, Mr Hoekstra said, the Union stood ready to support Ghana in all the areas discussed as the country has distinguished itself as a reliable partner and beacon of peace and stability in West Africa.
In line with Netherlands’ Africa Strategy, he said, his country was striving for effective trade agreements, stronger economic ties and improved access for Dutch businesses to African markets which would ultimately transition Netherlands’ relations from aid to trade.
“I firmly belief in this kind of sustainable and equal partnership based on shared values and shared interest and it is through this partnership that we will address challenges we face,” he said.
BY JONATHAN DONKOR