Barely three months ago, we witnessed in Accra, the very successful trade exhibition and small industries fair organised by the United States Government. Within this same period, we have seen several exhibitions of a similar kind by various governments, including those of the Peoples Republic of China, the Peoples’ Republic of Yugoslavia, and recently, the Federal Republic of Germany.
I am pleased to have been invited by the Canadian High Commissioner to participate in the opening ceremony of this trade exhibition, which is the first of its kind to be held by the Canadian Government in West Africa. Such exhibitions, are of the utmost importance, and help to stimulate our interest in the economic development taking place in other parts of the world.
The fact that many governments have arranged to hold trade shows here, is a clear manifestation of the interest and goodwill which is shown in Ghana by our friends abroad who are ready to give us the necessary assistance in the economic, industrial and technical development of our country.
It is particularly significant that Canada should hold a trade exhibition in Ghana. Indeed one will well ask why such an exhibition has not been held earlier. The ties of friendship between Canada and Ghana are very strong. I recall with pleasure, the first time l met the Canadian Prime Minister, Mr. Diefenbaker. It was in 1957 at the meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers in London. Both of us were attending for the first time. The admiration that l had for Mr. Diefenbaker at that time of our first meeting has never waned.
When l visited Canada in 1958, l was highly impressed with the obvious signs of industrial development that l saw. I was privileged to address the members of the Canadian Senate and House of Commons on 21st July, 1958, and l spoke then of the generous assistance we had received from Canada in a number of economic, social and cultural fields. The government of Canada has continued to I make notable contributions to our economic development, by providing experts, advisers and training facilities under technical assistance schemes. I should like to take this opportunity to say how grateful we, the government and people of Ghana, are for this assistance.
Our trade and economic relations with Canada have remained very satisfactory. Canada is our chief supplier of wheat flour. In addition, we obtain from her fair quantities of rice, milk and other dairy products. We have reorganized our import control system recently in order to safe-guard and improve our balance of payments position with the rest of the world. I am told that the effect of this reorganization on our trade with Canada has been negligible. I am confident, therefore, that this exhibition which we are opening today, will result in the further development of the satisfactory trade and economic relations between our two countries, and also strengthen the ties of friendship which already exist between us.
The Commonwealth to which we belong, consists today of different races with different creeds, different forms of government, cultures and background. We regard the Commonwealth as an association of free and independent sovereign states, equal in all respects and bound together by the common desire to work for the good and well being of its members.
We in Ghana are now engaged in producing a new seven-year plan of socio-economic, industrial, agricultural and technological development. We are confident that the new plan, when it comes to be implemented, will stimulate and enhance Ghana’s economy and raise it to new heights of productivity and strength. We are however faced with another problem: the dangers to which we are exposed by the prospect of the European Common Market, not only as members of the Commonwealth, but particularly as members of the African community.
The policy of the Ghana Government in this matter has been made unmistakably clear. We are opposed to any groupings or arrangements which are used as a cloak for perpetuating colonial privileges in Africa. The unpleasant effect on the Commonwealth of Britain joining the European Common Market cannot be over stated and I am glad that in this matter, Canada, like Ghana, is very much alive to the serious issues involved.
We must so plan our economies that we in Africa are not reduced perpetually to the role of producers of raw materials only. We cannot improve our standard of living by remaining agricultural areas indefinitely, nor can we improve the skill and ingenuity of our peoples by keeping them solely as workers in rural area. This is why we are working so hard and so fast to ensure that the industrial, agricultural and technological development gets started in Ghana right now. Last week, we heard the good news that the final documents regarding the financing of the Volta River Project have been signed with the World Bank in Washington. Everything is now ready therefore for work on this great project to begin in earnest. From now on there can be no turning back and we look forward to the day when there will be enough electric power throughout the towns and villages of Ghana, to sustain our industrial activity.
I am glad to mention here with the assistance of the Canadian Prime Minister, Mr. Diefenbaker himself, we have been able to recruit for the important job of chief executive of the Volta River Authority, Mr. Dobson, an experienced Canadian engineer.
Ladies and Gentlemen; once again, I would like to welcome this exhibition to Ghana and to express the hope that it will strengthen the relations between Canada and the Republic of Ghana. It is with great pleasure therefore that I declare the Canadian Trade Exhibition open