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Bush Commends Economic Progress, Good Governance in Ghana

President Bush is in Ghana where U.S. government investments are helping improve agricultural production and export earnings. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

Traditional drums and horns welcomed President and Mrs. Bush to Ghana's , where American money helps train local workers and gives them a venue for displaying their products.

Mr. Bush spoke with women making jewelry for export to the United States under reduced tariffs as part of the African Growth and Opportunity Act.

He also met with women pounding nuts in a wooden pestle. The U.S. agricultural assistance is meant to make it easier and cheaper for those nuts to reach the trade center and for the finished product to reach the export market.

Ghana has a five-year, $547 million compact with the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation to reduce poverty by raising farmers' incomes through private-sector-led agricultural development.

MCC funds are contingent on countries respecting the rule of law, practicing good governance, engaging in free-market reforms, and spending on health and education.

At a joint news conference with Ghanaian President John Kufuor, President Bush said the size of America's financial commitment reflects the quality of Ghana's government.

"It is a sizable sum of taxpayers' money, aimed at helping you achieve your objectives, because your government, led by you, is one that fights corruption and invests in its children, invests in the health of its citizens," President Bush said.

President Kufuor said the performance-based assistance is an enlightened form of development as the United States and Ghana are part of a global economic village.

Ghana's MCC funds are designed to increase the productivity of high-value cash and food staple crops in some of the country's poorest regions while enhancing their competitiveness in regional and international markets.

"There is a major focus on agriculture and on commercialization of agriculture from end to end, from the farm gate all the way to the export market - exports in the region, exports to the world market - increasing opportunities for Ghanaian farmers to improve the profitability of agriculture to improve their own incomes and what they can do for their families," said Darius Mans, the Millennium Challenge Corporation's vice president for compact implementation.

Joyce Cacho is director of the agribusiness initiative at the U.S. Corporate Council on Africa, a private group promoting trade and investment between the United States and Africa.

She says MCC programs in Ghana are already drawing more private-sector investment.

"You already see, quite, frankly, agribusiness investment being attracted by improved infrastructure," she said. "I highlight Cargill's investment in a cocoa processing plant. It has attracted now capacity-building funds separate from the MCC to raise the capacity because of the expected demand for trained labor."

During this Africa trip, President Bush signed the largest ever MCC compact with Tanzania, bringing the program's total commitment to Africa to $3.8 billion.