General News of 2014-04-22

Signing EPA will affect our economy but... - Haruna Iddrisu

Though civil society organizations (CSOs) in Ghana have raised concerns about the European Union’s Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States, Ghana is not far from signing the trade pact, tv3network.com has gathered.
Ghana is likely to sign the Agreement before the October-deadline, sources say.
Already, the country has agreed to an interim Agreement, according to Minister of Trade and Industry Haruna Iddrisu.
“As far back as 2007, there was an interim EPA which allowed us some savings in terms of us having some market access and to comply with regulation 1528 of the European Union,” said Mr. Iddrisu on Tv3’s Hot Issues over the weekend.
He admitted that there will be unpleasant consequences if Ghana signs the Agreement but those may be worse, according to him, if the country fails to sign the Agreement. Witches’ dance
“It is like the witches’ dance. If you dance forward you will lose your mother, if you dance backwards you will lose your father,” he analogized.
“If we sign, there are ramifications and implications for the Ghanaian economy, if you withhold or postpone signing, there are dire consequences which will lead to the dying of your mother.”
Inasmuch as Mr. Iddrisu considers concerns of CSOs as “legitimate," he suggested that a proper assessment needs also to be conducted into the consequences the country may suffer not signing the Agreement.
The Member of Parliament of Tamale South Constituency, therefore, called for a fiscal impact survey from all concerned including government.
“There will be loss of jobs, loss of revenue. It will affect our economy,” he conceded but stated: “Our options are narrow if not limited.”
Mr. Iddrissu noted that between 49 per cent and 51 per cent of Ghana’s exports end up in Europe.
“The EU investment is the most significant and most substantial,” he mentioned.
He said the country, as a result, is working hard to establish other trade offices outside the EU for exporters.
“We are opening new trade offices in Japan, China, Turkey and South Africa in order that we can deepen our bilateral investment relation and in order that we can satisfy some of their minimum phytosanitary conditions in order that we can increase some of our exports to those markets.”
The Trade and Industry Minister allayed fears of Ghanaians over the Agreement, stressing that even if signed, it will not be implemented immediately.
“We have a five-year moratorium to readjust and undertake reforms.”