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SOL | 27 November 2016
The ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) undermined
by the Interim EPAs (iEPAs) of Ivory Coast and Ghana
by Jacques Berthelot ([email protected])
If the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) of West Africa (WA) is not finalized, the LDCs will not be obliged to open their markets to 73.8% of their imports from the EU28-UK (United Kingdom). The Interim EPAs (iEPAs) of Ivory Coast (IC) and Ghana will nevertheless disrupt in a number of ways the functioning of intra-regional trade in the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) and lead indirectly to opening up the LDCs’ and Nigeria’s markets to the EU28-UK exports to the CI and Ghana. Indeed, the Ghana’s EPA impact study carried out in January 2015 by the World Bank and the Ghanaian Ministry of Trade and Industry pointed out that for this country "The export market the most important for employment is ECOWAS: exporters to ECOWAS employed 38.7% of the workers in the sample. The second largest market is the European Union, with 4.9% of the workers of the sample" . A similar finding applies to IC.
The first question is which import duties (ID) IC and Ghana will use for their imports from the EU: those of the ECOWAS CET (Common External Tariff) in force theoretically since January 2015 or those of their iEPAs? If they favour ID and protection of farmers, they will prefer the WA CET, but if they yield to the pressures of the importers and the immediate interest of the consumers, they will choose the ID of the iEPAs with a maximum ID of 20% against 35% for the WA CET (for the majority of excluded products, mainly agricultural and heavily subsidized by the EU). The European Commission might prefer ID of iEPAs to favour European exporters.