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Trade Ministry allays fear over EPAs

MyJoyOnline, Ghana

Trade Ministry allays fear over EPAs

By Richard Nii Abbey

31 May 2012

There are renewed calls on the Government to call the bluff of the European Union which is threatening sanctions if Ghana fails to finalize the Economic Partnership Agreement by 2014.

The government in 2007 signed an interim EPA to allow 80 percent of European goods onto the Ghanaian market, duty-free and quota free. Ghana was in turn given 100 percent access to the EU market.

But now the EU is demanding that all African countries that signed the interim agreement must finalize the EPA within two years or face the consequences.

According to civil society organisation, Third World Network it has reliable information to suggest that cabinet is about to sign the final agreement and they insist that will cripple the economy.

Gyekye Tanoh at the political economy unit of Third World Network in an interview with Joy FM said Minister of Trade’s Hannah Tetteh’s recent pronouncements on the matter show an inclination towards signing the deal.

He added that although the policy has been widely criticized by personalities including President Mills, no review of the agreement has been carried out and it appears the threat of sanctions from the EU appears to coercing Ghana into signing the agreement.

He said the EPA’s are huge threats to business, farmers, consumers, and to the industrialization drive of the country and urged Ghanaians to be deeply concerned over the matter.

The Ministry of Trade has accused Third World Network of not backing their position with the facts. Speaking to Joy FM, the Trade Ministry denied that cabinet was contemplating signing the document.

The Ministry however said that next week they will begin a sensitization programme to educate the public about the EPA’s and when it becomes necessary to finalize the agreement, the public would be duly informed.