Business News of 2014-04-16

EPA saga: Gov’t on the right path – Franklin Cudjoe

President and Chief Executive Officer of Imani Ghana, Franklin Cudjoe, says the decision by government to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) is in the right direction.

The Minister of Trade and Industry, Haruna Iddrisu, on Tuesday said at a press briefing that government will not be coerced by any civil society group not to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement.

According to him, a consultative meeting with various stakeholders on the EPA will be organized on Thursday to iron out some outstanding issues.

Supporting the position taken by government, Mr. Cudjoe said “the government is on the right path’’.

“…The government has done all the economic calculations; the government has done all the economic diplomacy calculation, the government has done all the political calculations and decided that this is the noble path to take,’’ he said.

Mr. Cudjoe, however, warned government to desist from waiting for the ECOWAS region to all agree before it signs up to the EPA.

“Waiting for the region is probably not too fine an idea, because this is the same ECOWAS that has been at this idea of integration for years, [and has not been successful]…’’

He opined that Ghana can on its own sign the EPA without the backing of ECOWAS. “…Trade occurs amongst countries, it could also occur between regions and countries as well; I am not too sure that we want to sacrifice the good things that will happen if Ghana signs unilaterally with EU [European Union] on the altar of a very sleepy ECOWAS,’’ he reiterated.

Mr. Cudjoe urged Ghanaians to support the government to sign the EPA because its benefits to Ghana and the business community are enormous.

Meanwhile, the Private Enterprise Foundation (PEF) who disagrees with the idea of government signing the EPA said it is interested in knowing the "consensus position of Sovereign’’ Ghana.

Speaking on Eyewitness News, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of (PEF), Nana Osei Bonsu, said "has Ghana done a thorough analysis of the EPA proposal from the EU to determine that this is what we as a country will benefit from and want to do...’’

Osei Bonsu questioned whether the current discussions and dialogue about the benefits of the EPA are informed or not. "Are we being informed of the proposals on the table; I have never seen an EU proposal other than what is written on the internet,’’ he said.

According to him, the benefits or detriments of EPA will rest on the private sector; he stated that it is the private sector that will suffer most.

He proposed that government dialogue with all the stakeholders to take a common decision before we go to the negotiation table with ECOWAS and the EU.

Ghana and the EU in 2007 initiated an Interim EPA to conform to the World Trade Organization requirements for preferential trade deals between WTO members.