Ghana to be guided by collective position of ECOWAS on EPA
Mr Haruna Iddrisu, Minister of Trade and Industry, on Thursday said Ghana would be guided by the collective position of the Economic Community of West African States on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
The EPA agreement between the bloc and the European Union must be signed before October 1.
He said the West Africa-European Union (EU) EPA would be well managed to ensure inclusive economic growth and development for Ghana.
Mr Iddrisu was speaking at a Public forum on the Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union, organised by the Ministry of Trade and Industry in Accra.
The meeting was to provide avenue for stakeholders including religious leaders, civil society organisations, non-governmental organisations as well as those in academia to share their views and opinion which would inform governments position moving forward.
Mr Iddrisu recalled that over the last three decades the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of countries enjoyed special trading relationships with the EU under various Lome Conventions, which granted ACP countries non-reciprocal preferential access to the EU market.
He said the regional EPA negotiations proceeded at a slow pace and by late 2007 became apparent that a regional EPA would not be concluded by December 2007 deadline.
He said in such an event, Non-Least Developing Countries such as Ghana would be forced to export to the EU market under the less favourable Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) from January 2008, which would add up to 25 per cent tariff rates on exports, thus making them non-competitive in the EU market.
Mr Iddrisu also noted that to prevent that scenario, Ghana and the EU concluded an Interim EPA (IEPA) in December 2007.
He said the regional EPA would supersede the IEPA when signed.
He said the EU out of frustration over the lack of sufficient progress in many of the regional EPA negotiations initiated a process to amend its market access regulation, which would deny Duty-free and Quota-free market to ACP countries and regions which would not have signed EPA or IEPA by October.
He said with the renewed participatory negotiations approach by the Authority of Heads of States and Governments of ECOWAS at their meeting on October 25, 2013 in Dakar, reached a consensus over the resumptions of negotiations with EU with the view to concluding the Regional Agreement as soon as possible.
He stated that subsequent meeting of the Ministerial Monitoring Committee meeting on the West Africa EPA made enormous progress towards the conclusion on the EU-ECOWAS EPA.
Mr Iddrisu noted that in the new arrangement, market access offer of 75 per cent under the West Africa EPA with a traditional period of 20 years is better than Ghanas IEPA with the EU which offered 80 per cent for market access with a traditional period of 15 years.
He said other clauses in the West Africa EPA including rules of origin, Most Favoured Nation, Non-Execution Clause and Agricultural subsidies are more favourable than what is contained in the Ghana IEPA.