Brazilian President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, said yesterday that “visiting Ghana is more than a political visit, more than a visit by a head of State – it must be viewed as a visit from a brother, a companion who belongs to a nation that owes part of its culture and part of what Brazil is today to the people of Ghana.”
In a salute to government authorities prior to his meeting with President John Kufuor and the parallel meetings between Ministers of the two countries, Lula mentioned feijoada (bean stew), joy, and samba as part of Brazil’s African heritage.
The visit, which lasted under 24 hours, occurs at a moment when cooperation and economic and commercial exchanges between the two countries are intensifying.
Since 2003, Ghana has been the fourth largest importer of Brazilian products in sub-Saharan Africa, after South Africa, Nigeria, and Angola.
Bilateral trade has grown 600% in two years, from around US$ 30 million in 2002 to around US$ 170 million in 2004.
An impulse to this growth was imparted by the II Meeting of the Brazil-Ghana Mixed Commission, in Brasília, in August, 2004, nearly 18 years after the Commission’s inaugural encounter.
To stimulate further business between the two countries, a bilateral agreement was ratified yesterday for the establishment of flights between Brazil and Ghana. A second agreement, this one on political consultations, was also signed.
Another agreement, concluded in Brazil, according to the Minister of Foreign Relations, Celso Amorim, provides for the transfer of resources to restore Brazil House, in Accra.
The residence, which was built in the beginning of the 19th century by the Tabom community, composed of descendants of Brazilian slaves of Ghanian origin who returned to Africa, is considered an important symbol of the historical and cultural ties that join Brazil and Africa.
It is estimated that the joint restoration project will cost US$ 200 thousand.
The President was feted by the Tabom at a ceremony that lasted nearly two hours and offered a banquet by the President of Ghana at the International Conference Center. Before departing this morning for Guinea-Bissau, Lula inaugurated the Brazil-Ghana Chamber of Commerce.