Business News of 2014-05-07

FSG calls on President to reject EPA

Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG), a body against genetically modified foods, has called on the Mahama administration to reject the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) as it stands.

“We add our voices to the calls by civil society on the Mahama administration to reject the EPA.

“Strenuous negotiations by African nations at the (World Trade Organisation (WTO) gave African governments some minimum space, under the agreement, to preserve our ability to develop our domestic policies to suit our developmental needs.

“The EPA is aimed at hijacking our sovereign rights to self-determination well beyond what is allowed under the WTO Agreement,” a statement issued by Duke Tagoe, Deputy Chairperson of FSG in Accra on Tuesday and copied to Ghana News Agency, said.

It said the agreement places Ghana at a permanent economic disadvantage since it is to the advantage of the EU.

“Their economic boat is sinking and they are desperate to lock in Ghana and other African countries as a permanent source of raw materials to continue to drive their economic engine.

“They also wish to preserve Ghana and African countries as a place for below cost dumping of their excess,” the statement said.

It said signing onto the EPAs will trigger severe loss of jobs, and threaten the peace of the continent.

It will cause economic and political unrest and strangle Africa’s freedom to evolve and pursue its own development agenda.

“We acknowledge that the existing framework of the Cotonou Agreement is not compatible with section 24 of the WTO Agreement, so it must be replaced…The agreement is a one-way preferential arrangement. It has very little to do with free trade and much to do with coercive economics.”

The statement called for the protection of the domestic policy space, by excluding trade, issues that are not required under the WTO, adding that developing countries have all along been trying to retain some policy space for themselves.

It said the Mahama administration needs to know that it has a duty of care to Ghanaians, not to the EU.

According to the FSG the President is expected to defend the country’s interests at ECOWAS meetings rather than seeking guidance from them.

It said on the issue of alternatives, civil society organisations, the private sector, and many respectable bodies including the United Nations have demonstrated conclusively that there are credible alternatives to signing the EPAs.

“Ghana will revert automatically to the standard Generalised System of trade preferences which will afford the country duty free and quota free for about 72 per cent of Ghanaian exports to the EU.

“The 28 per cent of exports which will be affected, mainly exporters of tuna, vegetables, fruits and cocoa paste will have to pay extra duties of 52 million dollars in order to access the EU market. However, Ghana will save revenue on import duties to the tune of 378 million dollars annually in case of no EPA.

“Therefore the savings from revenue could be used to absorb the extra duties of the exporters in the mean time whilst steps are taken to diversify their exports markets. This way, all others jobs and exporters that depend on the domestic and regional markets will be saved and the nation as a whole avoid the disastrous clauses that forfeit Ghanaian sovereignty and threaten Ghanaian business and agriculture,” the statement said.