The Statesman | Tuesday, 8 July 2008
Ecowas: EU policy supersedes Ghana’s interim EPA deal
Ghana, would by September next year cease to adhere to the rules and conditions of the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement, when the ECOWAS-EU policy comes into force.
Ghana signed an interim pact with the European Commission in December 2007 after the expiration of the cotounou partnership agreement on trade.
The current interim agreement will be superseded by the Regional trade policy which is being drafted by the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS.
This was made known by Patrick Opoku, an official at the Ministry of trade and industry at a two day Capacity building Workshop on International Trade and Development for Financial and Economic Journalists at Ho in the Volta region.
Economic Partnership Agreements are a scheme to create a free trade area between the European Union and the African Caribbean and Pacific countries. They are a response to continuing criticism that the non-reciprocal and discriminating preferential trade agreements offered by the EU are incompatible with World Trade Organization rules. The EPA’s are a key element of the Cotonou Agreement, the latest agreement in the history of ACP-EU Development Cooperation
He noted that drafting of the policy will complete in the middle of next year and be signed for full implementation in September 2009.
He disclosed that the EPA deal had even pushed ECOWAS countries faster in their integration process since it was facilitating the drafting of a common Agric policy, common industrial, external levy, and investment and competition policies.
Participant then questioned the effectiveness of ECOWAS which is currently developing common policies for Investment, External levy, Agriculture and Industries in the sub region.
As a regional body, ECOWAS was expected to have been operating with documented trade, investment and agricultural policies and policy makers wondered why the regional economic body had existed without the policies. They therefore questioned its competence in the promotion of trade and economic activities in the sub region.
Asked what would have happened if Ghana had refused to sign the EPA initial (interim), Mr. Opoku said that position would have had a great negative implication on the country’s export to the EU market and caused serious economic chaos.
He said Prior to the expiration of the Cotounou agreement, exporters were asked to stop piling non traditional commodities for export while others were told top stop exporting to allow the final determination of the Africa Caribbean And Pacific Countries in the EPA deal.
"IF Ghana hadn’t signed our exporters would have lost lots of investment .it was in this directive that we hurriedly signed the EPA initial, he said.
He described the EPA as a good deal that came the way of Ghana and was taken advantage of.
However Kingsly Offei Nkansah OF the General Agricultural Workers union disagreed with him with the view that the interim EPA called for total liberalization of goods and services and all that the deal wanted had already been liberalized and so why should Ghana hurriedly sign it.
He said at the workshop that Ghana today is a net importer of agricultural and poultry products and allow international companies to bid for local contracts to the disadvantage of local contractors and entrepreneurs.
He said offering 80% of our market access to the European Union poses a great danger to the countries since that would automatically facilitate the collapse of our industries, bring in cheap goods and allow subsidized European services to be cheaply introduced in Ghana.
Since Ghana had no capacity to meet the strict import requirement of the EU, it wouldn’t be able to utilize the 100% market access granted it into the EU market. he noted.
Source: The Statesman