BY ANTHONY SEDZRO
Some Mexican investors and companies have expressed their interest in investing in Ghana, especially in the agricultural sector. This is as a result of two trade mission exchanges which took place between Ghana and Mexico this year.
Mawuena Trebarh, the CEO of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), and a business mission and, …, the CEO of ProMexcio, and the first Mexican business delegation exchanged visits to Mexico and Ghana respectively. “These two missions show the strong determination of Mexico and Ghana to enhance their economic links with the mutual interests of our business communities,” María de los Angeles Arriola Aguirre, the Mexican ambassador to Ghana, said. ProMéxico, the Mexican institution that promotes trade and investment, and its Ghanaian counterparts GIPC, and the Ghana Export Promotion Council (GEPA) signed two Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) which will facilitate business and trade between Mexico and Ghana, Arriola Aguirre confirmed.
The Mexican embassy in Ghana was re-opened in January 2014, after more than three decades of its closure. Aguirre made these revelations at the commemoration of the 206th independence anniversary of the United Mexican States at a colourful ceremony held on September 15 at the Labadi Beach hotel in Accra. The well-patronised ceremony had in attendance Ministers of State, ambassadors from various countries, government officials, nationals of Mexico living in Ghana, nationals of other Latin American countries, friends of Mexico and the media.
She said the two countries have also worked together on global developmental issues. “Traditionally, we have worked together in the multilateral field and through the international fora by endorsing common positions in various issues on the international agenda. That is the case of the Post-2015 Development Agenda, and on Climate Change, where our two countries are mutually committed to the works of the COP 22 [the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)] coming this November,” she said.
Hannah Serwaa Tetteh, Ghana’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, said the re-opening of the embassy in Accra has changed bilateral trade relations between the two countries, which hitherto were insignificant. “In less than 17 months of reopening the Embassy of Mexico, bilateral relations between the two countries have grown from strength to strength. I wish at this juncture to congratulate the Ambassador for her efforts at improving bilateral relations and also translating such a relationship into a strategic and fruitful one.”
Serwaa Tetteh said: “As the years come to a close, it is our hope and expectation that the Agreements signed will be implemented in order to improve trade and investment between the two countries for the mutual benefits of their citizens… we believe that opportunities exist for our two countries to engage in mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields of endeavor.“ The rising bilateral co-operation between the two countries transcends the political arena. Last September, Senator Ana Gabriela Guevara, a former Mexican 400 metres world athletic champion who is now a member of the Mexican Senate, visited Ghana. Senator Guevara’s presence in Ghana helped to strengthen the sporting ties when she served as the guest of honour for the Second Millennium Marathon in Accra. She had meetings with Ministers and Members of Parliament to strengthen bilateral political dialogue in the fledgling relationship.
Tetteh recognised the significance of her visit: “The arrival in the country of Mrs Ana Gabriela Guevara, a Mexican former world champion … goes to give credence to the fact that Ghana and Mexico are willing to cooperate not only in the field of trade and industry but also in the area of sports. Her visit has also given us the hope that the two countries have the opportunity to work together to strengthen our democratic institutions and also raise our political dialogue to a higher level.”
The evening event witnessed many Mexican nationals dressed in the traditional costume of their country, proudly showcasing the red, white, green colours of the Mexican flag. Some Mexicans present wore the famed Sombrero, a broad-brimmed hat formerly used in rural Mexico to shield a person from the sun which is in common use today among ‘Mariachi’ musicians and foreign tourists. Aguirre gave a rendition of a Mexican solidarity skit interspersed with shouts of “Viva Mexico” much to the amusement and applause of guests. The national anthems of both countries were played to enthusiastic reception. There was also a five-minute fireworks display, illuminating the dark skies of the Atlantic coast.
The independence celebration was held worldwide. The pride with which Ambassador Aguirre and her compatriots dressed in their national costumes and showed off their culture could perhaps be traced to the manner Mexico’s independence was attained.
In the early 19th century, Spain’s colonisation of Mexico and other countries in South America led to revolts across Spanish America. On September 16, 1810, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Mexican Catholic priest, launched the Mexican War of Independence with the issuing of his Grito de Dolores, or ‘Cry of Delores.’ The revolutionary tract called for the end of Spanish rule in Mexico, redistribution of land and racial equality. Mexico declared independence from Spain on September 16, 1810. The country’s Independence Day is proudly celebrated worldwide. Mexico has a population of over 121 million people, borders both South and North Americas. It is made up of 31 states, with 11,000 kilometres of coastline and attracts millions of tourists yearly.
Determined to let guests experience Mexico as much as practicable, the night featured live Mexican music performed by Mariachis Sol de México. Mexicans enjoy spicy food just as Ghanaians do. To allow guests sample Mexican food, Alma Caballero, a great Mexican Chef who is in Ghana, personally prepared original Mexican recipes with native products directly brought from Mexico for the occasion. Additionally, the First Mexican Food Festival took place from September 16-18 at Labadi Beach hotel as part of the anniversary celebrations. Various assortments of traditional Mexican food and drinks were available to cater to many tastes. For ambassador Aguirre, these activities were carefully planned to “help Ghanaians to get to know and understand better the richness and the diversity of culture and traditions of Mexico.”
Mexico’s Mariachis music and cuisine have been declared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as an intangible heritage to humanity. The country’s variety in landscape, climate, tourism destinations, archaeological sites, colonial and modern cities, and its welcoming hospitality have helped it to become the 9th main tourist destination worldwide, up from 15th position in 2014. Many of the visitors are repeat tourists. However, Africans in general, and Ghanaians in particular, hardly visit Mexico.
On the cultural level, however, Ghanaians have a romantic affinity to Mexico courtesy the numerous Mexican soap operas (telenovelas) which have enjoyed broad viewership on local television for many years. The telenovelas have given Ghanaians an insight and understanding of Mexico from soap operas like ‘Acapulco Bay,’ ‘Cuando Seas Mia,’ ‘La Ursurpadora,’ ‘Esmeralda,’ ‘Juana La Virgen,’ Rosalinda,’ among others.
To promote Mexico’s tourist attractions to Ghanaians, the embassy together with KLM, the Mexican Tourism Board, Labadi Beach Hotel and Alico Tours organised the First Mexican Tourism Workshop in Ghana on September 16 at the hotel. In attendance were many travel and tour operators in Ghana. Ambassador Aguirre said although Ghana and Mexico have friendly citizens, not many Ghanaians visit the South American country. The aim of the workshop was to expose Mexico’s many tourist attractions to tour operators to whip up the interests of Ghanaians. Vicente Salas Hesselbach, the Director of the Mexican Tourism Board in London, showed participants a short video of Mexico and its attractions. Hesselbach said Mexico had 34.5 million international visitors, generating US$11.9 billion in revenue in 2015. He also revealed that the country is the first in Latin America and the sixth worldwide in terms of World Heritage sites. He said Mexico has projected to receive 50 million visitors in 2018, and encouraged Ghanaians and other Africans to visit the country. Alicia Lopez of Alico Tours, a Mexican travel and tour company, also promoted Mexican tourism. KLM currently flies from Accra to Mexico via Holland and New York, and plans to add Paris en route next February.
To crown the independence celebrations, the embassy organised the Second Mexican Film Festival at the Nubuke Foundation in Accra from September 28 to October 1. Four Mexican films were shown, with one of the actors in a movie, …, as part of the audience.