Business News of 2014-04-07

EPA is a done deal – Rashid Pelpuo

The controversial Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) will be signed by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government, according to Rashid Pelpuo, Minister in charge of Public-Private Partnership.

Opponents of EPA have persistently argued that it would automatically hand over economic control of 16 West African states constitute ECOWAS to the European Union (EU).

According to the Minister, it would be too costly not to sign EPA because it is tied to “aid, technical assistance, political relationship and trade.”

ECOWAS Agenda

The EPA was high on the agenda when ECOWAS Heads of State gathered at the 44th ordinary session in Yamoussoukro in the Ivory Coast where President John Dramani Mahama was elected Chairman of the West African regional body.

In the run-up to the session, Foreign Minister Hannah Tetteh said that the government would support any decision by the ECOWAS leadership on EPA.

“It’s not a question of what is Ghana’s stance because this is an ECOWAS decision. Either we all agree or we don’t agree,” she said.

However, a communiqué issued after the session appeared to indicate that all member states could not agree on the deal and therefore had to be put on hold once again.

Some states, particularly Nigeria, raised concern about technical matters in the agreement and that compelled the heads of state and government to shelve the signing of the deal.

ECOWAS leaders however reaffirmed their commitment to the agreement and endorsed its conclusion in principle and subsequently directed the chief negotiators to take steps to address the issues raised by Nigeria and other member states within two months before appending their signature to the EPA.

Done deal

On Joy FM’s news analysis programme Newsfile last Saturday, Rashid Pelpuo said the EPA was almost a done deal and said in the absence of a viable alternative, Ghana’s economy stood little chance in boycotting the agreement.

“So if your budget is not balancing and every time you depend on somebody to balance your budget and you now say you won’t sign, they will pull out in that aid because it is tied to it. If they were giving technical assistance to your ministries, departments, agencies and you now say you won’t sign, they will pull out of it,” he explained.

He said Ghana would face economic consequences if the government fails to sign the agreement by the October 2014 deadline.

Local businesses that export to the EU would have to pay full export duties which could collapse their businesses.

“We have to get to a point where we have to agree and sign this agreement. We can’t continue to say we won’t sign and not give reasons why we won’t sign,” he said.

Casely-Hayford’s input

In a related development, Financial Analyst, Sydney Casely-Hayford has urged the government to sign agreement because its benefits far exceed its disadvantages.

He said on Citi FM’s The Big Issue that ECOWAS leaders should have signed the agreement.

“We should have signed and moved on, the benefits of signing this agreement far exceed the disadvantages,’’ he said.

Mr. Casely-Hayford said assertions that the agreement would destroy the Ghanaian manufacturing and industry was false.

“Instead of looking at the negatives, we should look at the positive aspects and grow our non-traditional exports as well as improving our export market.”

‘’I think that there is too much sentiment surrounding all of this; if you look at it from a purely business point of view, somebody is offering (Ghana and ECOWAS) the opportunity to get into a far bigger market than you can ever expect.’’

Civil Society Organisations, including the Christian Council of Ghana and the Trades Union Congress Ghana (TUC), have all opposed the signing of the EPA.

Source: Daily Guide
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