Business News of 2014-03-21

Exporters seek gov’t position on partnership agreement

The executive members of the Sea-Freight Pineapple Exporters of Ghana (SPEG) have paid a courtesy call on the Minister of Food and Agriculture to ascertain government position on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union.

The exporters sought governments support to ensure that the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (IEPA) was also ratified whilst the Economic Community of West Africa States EPA was being worked on expeditiously.

Mr Siaw-Otu Frank, Public Relations Officer of Ministry of Food and Agriculture, said in a statement copied to the Ghana News Agency on Thursday. The statement said the Association, which is made up of companies that produce and export agricultural produce, sought governments position on the EPA as the October, 2014 deadline for the signing of the EPA was fast approaching.

It said members expressed fear of a threat to the survival of their business if Ghana failed to sign the EPA, saying exports from Ghana would likely attract higher tariff thereby making them non-competitive in the market as compared to their counterparts from the Asiatic countries.

Leading the eight-member team represented by Golden Exotics Limited, Pioneer Food Cannery Limited, Blue Skies Ghana limited, Mr George Kporye of Golden Exotics Company said banana would attract 20 percent tariff, pineapple six to eight percent while tuna could be hit with 24 percent tariff.

We are appealing to government to ensure that the right things are done at the right time so we are not disadvantaged in the business since its a competitive business he said. The statement said the members appealed to government to expedite action on the ratification of the Interim EPA by ensuring it reached the European Parliament before they went on recess by end of April, 2014.

According to the statement, Mr Clement Kofi Humado, Minister of MoFA, said the issue had already been discussed at cabinet level and a four-member committee made up of ministers of Trade and Industry, Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Fisheries and Aquaculture Development and Justice have been constituted.

The committee is expected to brief the President as to the way forward and inform the President before he attended the April Summit of the European Union in Brussels, the statement said. It quoted Mr Humado as having assured the members that their concerns would be dealt with by the committee.

It is recalled that on December, 13, 2007, Ghana signed the interim agreement with the European Union which had been binding on Ghana pending regional decision.

The agreement, according to the European Union, will enable Ghana to benefit significantly from an improved market access to the EU The scheme is to create a preferential free trade area between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP).