DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS BETWEEN GHANA AND KOREA
Ghana, a west African country bordering on the Gulf of Guinea, Ghana is bounded by Cote d'Ivoire to the West, Burkina Faso to the North, Togo to the east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the south.
Ghana-Korea relations have grown steadily since the two countries first established diplomatic relations in 1977. There were hardly any meaningful political and economic contacts between the two countries before then, due mainly to ideological differences and the realities of geographical distance, language and cultural barriers coupled with the fact that until recently, South Korea was herself a struggling developing country very much in the same league as Ghana. With her subsequent rapid economic growth, over the last three decades, Korea has become increasingly attractive to Ghana both as a potential source of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and a market for the non-traditional exports.
The two countries are multi-party democracies committed to constitutional government. Koreans who are well-informed about affairs on the African continent do respect Ghana's achievements in democratic governance. Ghana enjoys enormous goodwill among Korean politicians and businessmen due to good governance, political stability, respect for human rights, freedom of the press and promoting of liberal market economy. The challenge is to transform this goodwill into concrete trade and economic cooperation for the mutual benefits of the two countries.
The evidence of cordial relations between the two countries is being manifested by exchanges of visits by high level officials of the two countries.
During the last decade, Ghanaian ministerial and parliamentary delegations have visited Korea to exchange ideas and discuss possibilities for enhancing cooperation between the two sides. In June 2001, a high-powered delegation led by then Senior Minister, Hon. J.H. Mensah, MP visited Seoul. He was accompanied by the former Minister of Finance, Hon. Yaw Osafo-Marfo, MP, and then Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Mustapha Ali Idris, M.P. They met with the former Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Economy of Korea and, among other things, briefed them about Ghana's decision to join the Highly-Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. This was to pre-empt any misunderstanding between the two countries because of the implications of the HIPC initiative on Ghana's international financial obligations.
Since that visit, the said Senior Minister also was in Korea from 26 to 29 October 2004 to renew and raise the level of cooperation between the two countries and to explore new areas for future cooperation. He met with several high-ranking officials including then Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Executive Vice President of Samsung Corporation, and the Executive Director of Administration and Planning of the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). He canvassed for support for Korean companies to engage in construction in Ghana, particularly Samsung Corporation in the petroleum sector as well as the Volta Aluminium Company.
In August the same year, Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom, then Minister of Energy, visited the Republic of Korea at the invitation of S.K. Engineering and Construction Company Ltd. During his visit, he invited S.K. Engineering to participate in the eventual privatization of TOR and the deregulation of the energy sector, and gently prompted the then Korean Vice Minister of Commerce, Industry and Energy to persuade Korean private businessmen, especially in the electronic appliances sector, to establish production bases in Ghana for supply to the ECOWAS sub-region.
In October 2006, Ghana's former President, His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor at the invitation of his then Korean counterpart paid an official visit to South Korea. The visit demonstrated the strong bond of friendship and goodwill between the leaders of the two countries. In the same year, Ghana's former Foreign Minister, Honourable Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo visited Korea to convey Ghana's full support to South Korea's candidature, His Excellency Ban Ki-moon to be elected as United Nations Secretary General to take over from His Excellency Kofi Annan, an illustrious Ghanaian. This also demonstrates the common interest and pride shared by the two countries.
In the year 2008, there were a number of high level visits by Ghanaian official delegations to Korea. These included delegations from Ghana's Ministries, notably Trade, Defence and Energy led by their then respective Ministers to discuss with their Korean counterparts various pertinent issues of interest to both countries. The former Chief Executive of Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) also visited Korea to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Samsung Corporation in respect of construction of a gas pipeline connecting the oil rig to a gas processing and distribution plant on-shore and also the building of a bigger refinery at the new oil and gas find site. Also in October 2008, Honourable Akoto Osei, then Minister of State for Finance led a five-member delegation to Korea to initiate negotiations for the establishment of a double taxation system between Ghana and South Korea.
As pointed out by His Excellency President Lee Myung-bak at a brief meeting held with H.E. Nana Gabriel Nsiah Nketiah following the latter's presentation of his letters of credence on 4th September, 2008, Ghana-South Korea bilateral relations can further deepened, expanded and diversified for the mutual interest of the two countries through the promotion of regular high level visits, particularly at presidential levels. The President again at a similar meeting with Her Excellency Mrs Margaret Clarke-Kwesie, Ghana's Ambassador to South Korea after the presentation of her letters of credence on 3rd December, 2009, stated that His Excellency President Mills was free to visit his country South Korea, any time he desires.
The South Korean President wields much power and takes final decisions on pertinent issues including the country's donations/assistance to needy countries. In this regard therefore, an invitation to the present President to pay official visit to Ghana (the first African country since he assumed power) will place Ghana among Korea's most favoured countries, hence increase Korea's official assistance to Ghana's developmental programmes.
A lot of Korean businessmen want to do business in Ghana but from observation, they don't want to fund the project. Rather they prefer to bid for projects funded by governments or international organizations. It is therefore proposed if government could consider a policy which will give them the confidence to invest or do business in Ghana with their own resources