Ghana News Agency | 23 November 2007
TUC to go to court over EPA
The Ghana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) on Friday served notice to government that it would avail itself of all legal instruments to stop the signing and/or implementation of either the full Economic Partnership Agreement or the EPA-light.
"We are fully convinced that either of the two as currently structured and conceived, constitute a direct threat to government revenue, decent work, sustainable development, poverty reduction and sub-regional integration," a statement signed by Mr Kwasi Adu-Amankwah, Secretary-General of the GTUC said.
The GTUC, therefore, called on government to formally table a request to the European Union Council of Ministers for Ghana to be admitted to the GSP+ regime when the current Cotonou Agreement expired on December 31 2007.
It said the seeming lack of action on the part of government had created anxiety among exporters and had led to some of them supporting the dangerous proposals of the European Commission.
The GSP+ also known as the Special Incentive Arrangement for Sustainable Development and Good Governance is currently available to a number of countries in Latin America.
The GTUC said contrary to the European Commission’s claims, over 97 per cent of all Ghana’s current exports would continue to enter the EU market duty-free and quota-free under the GSP+ regime.
It said Ghana had satisfied all the criteria required for the GSP+. For instance, it meets the definition of a vulnerable economy since about 70 per cent of exports to the EU were based on primary commodities and she had also ratified all the relevant international conventions.
"Thus Ghana can begin to enjoy the facility as early as January 2008," the statement said, adding that the EC could be in breach of World Trade Organisation (WTO). rules in not immediately extending the GSP+ to Ghana.
The GTUC said it had learnt with dismay from various sources that the government was seriously considering the European Commission Proposal for interim agreement or the so called, ’EPA Light.’
This proposal will commit government to eliminate all tariffs on up to 80 per cent of European imports into Ghana and the West Africa region into the future for 10 to 12 years.
The statement reiterated the need for government to thread cautiously in the negotiations for the Economic Partnership Agreement, saying a rush to sign the EPA could inflict serious damage on Ghanaian industry, especially those who produce for the domestic and regional markets and harm employment of millions of workers.
It said the GTUC, "have on several occasions expressed concern over certain aspects of the proposed EPA, which is essentially a free trade agreement between the single most important trading bloc in the world - and one of the least significant in world commerce - West Africa."
The statement said it shared the view "that Ghana needs to trade more with the rest of the world, we are guided by the fact that no country has been able to build a competitive industrial base by throwing open its borders through a rushed free trade agreement."