Jamaica, Ghana Seek to Strengthen ‘Fraternal Bonds’ with Implementation of Visa Waiver Program

A reciprocal agreement allowing visa-free arrangements for citizens of Jamaica and Ghana is set to go into effect on July 1, the two countries’ leaders announced Saturday.

Speaking to reporters, Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced the travel measure as both countries pledged to negotiate and finalize a restart of their dormant Ghana-Jamaica Permanent Joint Commission for Co-operation trade agreement. The prime minister delivered the news alongside Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who was visiting the island on a two-day Caribbean tour to promote “The Year of Return, Ghana 2019.”

The landmark visa campaign is aimed at encouraging African-Americans and others in the diaspora to return home as part of a movement marking 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived in Jamestown, Virginia back in 1619.

“We can’t have visas standing in the way of those relations, so the decision has been taken by my Government… to provide visa-free arrangements for Jamaicans in Ghana, and facilitate and make it easier for you to accept our invitation to come and join us for the Year of Return,” Akufo-Addo said.

He added that, “the relationship that we are forming here in Jamaica, will form part of this process of solidifying the relations between those of us on the continent of Africa and those of you in the Diaspora outside Africa.”

After bilateral talks between the two leaders, Holness said the initiative is “central in our discussions” and will aid in building “on the fraternal bonds … between our two countries and [taking] our peoples to greater heights.”

Holness continued: “We can use this initiative to forge increased inter-personal connections and, at the same time, deepen trade and commercial relations between our respective countries.”

In addition to strengthening their partnership, the leaders also discussed pertinent bilateral matters related to the trade agreement, including the movement of goods and services between the two nations and efforts to improve investments, according to JIS News. Trade, sports, tourism, culture and education were also topics of discussion.

Akufo-Addo concluded his visit Sunday with a meeting with leaders at the University of the West Indies, followed by a tribute at the shrine of revered Black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey.

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