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Employers’ associations deliberate on EPA and regional integration

Ghana News Agency

Employers’ associations deliberate on EPA and regional integration

13 May 2011

Accra, May 13, GNA - The Federation of Employers’ Associations of West Africa has organised a capacity building workshop to inform, sensitise and train members on their Annual Operation Plan.

The workshop, held in Accra on Thursday, aimed at arousing participants’ reflection on the prospective problems of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) being implemented by the Federation of Employers’ Associations of West Africa (FWAEA) and the various national employers’ associations for possible solution.

Countries participating in the workshop include Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Nigeria, Niger, Senegal and Togo.

The two-day event was also meant to list all the actions carried out by West African Economic and Monetary Union and FWAEA and contributions to help the local associations in the implementation of their promotion and development projects.

Mr Diallo Oussein, Executive Secretary of FWAEA, said the workshop would also be used to present a study report on the business opportunities and threats related to the EPA and regional integration.

"This would enable participants to play active role in accomplishing the objectives of the associations in order to take up new challenges, which would arise from the private sector," he said.

He said at the end of the event participants would be well informed on the role of EPA and its environmental impact on companies.

Mr Coulibaly Aboubakar, a Consultant, in a presentation on the topic: "Business Opportunities and Threats Related to EPA and Regional Integration," said for competitiveness and protection of the region concerning the agreement, the FWAEA need to get involved in the finalisation of market access offer negotiation of the ongoing liberalisation talks.

He said FWAEA should identify priority exportation development sectors to ensure an appropriate assistance programme, develop levelling and competitive list and organise meetings and partnership framework between Europeans and West African economic operators.

On the opportunities related to Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Common External Tariff, he said it would ensure the transparency of custom tariffs regarding the numerous impediment to trade in the region.

Mr Aboubakar said there was the need to protect sensitive sectors in order to attract investments.

"The ECOWAS, Common External Tariff is an important trade policy instrument for the region. But its interest will become important only if it is really applied and if assistance measures are undertaken to strengthen tariff choice, namely on the fifth band," he added.

Mr Victor Atta-Amponsah, Development Manager at Ghana Employers’ Association, expressed the hope that the event would be used to promote private sector development and urged the participants to come out with strategies to improve trade in the sub-region.