After 1981, PNDC foreign policy was designed to promote the country's economic growth and well-being by establishing friendly relations and cooperation with all countries irrespective of their economic and political philosophies or ideological orientation. PNDC policy also sought new markets for Ghana's exports, the expansion of existing markets, and new investment opportunities.
Ghana's relations with Canada were quite good under the PNDC, as were Ghana's relations with the European Community and its member countries. In 1987, as part of its cancellation of the debts of several African countries, Canada canceled a Ghanaian debt of US$77.6 million. In 1989 Germany canceled US$295 million of Ghana's foreign debt, and France canceled US$26 million.
A number of Western countries, including France and Canada, continued to cancel debts in 1991, reflecting the generally cordial relations between Ghana and Western countries and the confidence the West had in PNDC policies. In early July 1991, Rawlings paid a three-day official visit to Paris, which symbolized the close ties that had developed between the PNDC and the French government. Western countries have continued to show keen interest in, and support for, the ERP and Ghana's transition to democratic government.
In line with its commitment to the principles of nonalignment, the PNDC sought to develop close relations with the socialist regimes in Eastern Europe, Cuba, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea), and China. In the early days of PNDC rule, Rawlings made official visits to China and Ethiopia, the latter then headed by a Marxist-Leninist regime.
During these visits, various economic, trade, and cultural agreements were concluded. Notable was the PNDC agreement with the German Democratic Republic (GDR or East Germany) for the improvement of roads in Kumasi, Ghana's second largest city, and for the Kumasi-Accra highway. The GDR also supplied Ghana with new railroad coaches. Barter trade with East European countries, especially the GDR, Romania, and Bulgaria, also increased. The PNDC established a State Committee for Economic Cooperation to ensure more effective cooperation with socialist countries and showed keen interest in developing relations with the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance.
The PNDC policy of restructuring Ghana's education system, moving from purely academic curricula to vocational and technical training, benefited from Ghana's close ties with socialist countries, notably Cuba. By 1985 Cuba was training some 1,000 Ghanaian school children and middle-level technicians. Cuba also offered Ghanaians training in political leadership for "revolutionary organs" and national security. Hundreds of Ghanaian youths left for various socialist countries to pursue professional and technical courses. The Soviet Union, China, and other socialist countries awarded scholarships to Ghanaians for both academic and technical courses. In addition, short-term training was offered for Ghana's Committees for the Defence of the Revolution. Bulgaria provided training in political organization and leadership, and the Soviet Union furnished education in medicine, veterinary sciences, and engineering.
The PNDC believed that Cuba provided a fruitful field for cooperation in areas other than education. The PNDC agreed to a joint commission for economic cooperation and signed a number of scientific and technical agreements with Cuba ranging from cultural exchanges to cooperation in such fields as health, agriculture, and education. Cuba trained Ghana's national militia, gave advice in the creation of mass organizations such as the CDRs, and provided military advisers and medical and security officers for the PNDC leadership. The two countries also signed agreements for the renovation of Ghana's sugar industry and for three factories to produce construction materials. In 1985 Ghana and Cuba signed their first barter agreement, followed by new trade protocols in 1987 and 1988. Cuban medical brigades worked in Tamale in the Northern Region, one of the poorest areas in Ghana. Cubans coached Ghanaian boxers and athletes and taught Spanish in Ghanaian schools.
Ghana's relations with Cuba continue to be strong despite Ghana's return to multiparty democracy and the severe economic crisis in Cuba in 1993 and 1994. A joint commission for cooperation between the two countries meets biennially in the alternate venues of Accra and Havana. Cuba is helping to create a faculty of medical sciences in Ghana's new University of Development Studies at Tamale. At the end of 1994, thirty-three medical specialists were working in Ghanaian hospitals. A bilateral exchange of technology and experts in mining and agriculture was also underway. Cuba is training 600 Ghanaians, mostly in technical disciplines, including engineering, architecture, and medicine. The two countries are engaged in successful business ventures, too, including a first class tourist resort at Ada in the Greater Accra Region and a Ghana-Cuba construction company.
Economic relations between Ghana and Japan are quite cordial, having improved considerably under the PNDC. Japan offered Ghana about US$680 million toward the rehabilitation of its telephone and television services. Following the visit to Japan of a Ghanaian delegation in early 1987, Japan pledged a total of US$70 million toward Ghana's economic development. In early 1994, Japan offered a further US$16.6 million to modernize rail transport and to improve water supply. In October 1994, Ghana joined in urging the UN Security Council to admit Japan and Germany, two countries that in 1993 and 1994 were among Ghana's largest aid donors, in recognition of the international political and economic stature of both countries.
Ghana's relations with the Arab countries were also generally good during the PNDC period, and they remained so under the new NDC administration. Considerable economic assistance flowed into Ghana from the Arab world. Ghana signed loan agreements with the Saudi Arabian Fund for Development for various development projects in Ghana, including the promotion of Islamic education. In early January 1994, loan agreements totaling US$16.5 million from the Kuwaiti Fund for Arab Economic Development were signed to fund a thermal power plant at Takoradi.
Following the peace accord between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in September 1993, Ghana reestablished diplomatic relations with Israel in August 1994. Diplomatic relations between the two countries had been broken in 1973 in support of member Arab states of the OAU who were at war with Israel. In urging resumption of diplomatic ties, parliament noted that Ghana stood to gain access to Israeli technology, notably in water engineering and irrigation, sewerage construction, and agriculture.
Finally, in June 1994, a new Ghanaian ambassador presented his credentials to Russian President Boris Yeltsin in Moscow. At the time, the Ghanaian government expressed its hope that democratic restructuring in both Ghana and Russia and the advent of a market economy in Russia would lead to new and diversified bilateral trade and economic cooperation.
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