A year ago, Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo became the first African leader to be invited in about 60 years on a state visit to Switzerland. But his visit may not have gone as his host would wish as he announced that his country will soon end the process of selling raw materials (cocoa) to trade partners for onward value addition.
Although Akufo-Addo’s visit was about 12 months ago, the details of his announcement have been rekindled by conversations sparked by recent impediments placed by rich countries on a World Trade Organization (WTO) proposal. The proposal would have seen coronavirus vaccines produced in large quantities widely in other countries if pharmaceutical corporations can waive off intellectual property claims.
Richer nations like those in the European Union as well as the United States have blocked this proposal although, in terms of global numbers, they are in the minority. Akufo-Addo’s statement to the Federal Council of Switzerland is seen by many pro-African interest observers as well as Pan-Africanists as a possible route through which Africa can win on trade on the global scene.
Ghana’s quest to hold back on exporting raw materials is an agenda independent of what is happening with the WTO’s proposal on COVID-19 vaccines. The agenda was even stated before the pandemic thus, it requires us to understand it within the context of Ghana’s developmental ambitions.
No more Cocoa Exports
One of the raw materials that Ghana is not looking to export any much longer includes cocoa beans; a commodity for which Ghana happens to be the second-largest producer; in the world after neighbors the Ivory Coast. Switzerland, a great manufacturer of chocolates; buys its cocoa from the two West African neighbors although Ghana is Switzerland’s biggest trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa.
President Akufo-Addo told the Federal Council of Switzerland, then headed by President Simmoneta Sommaruga.