Business News of 2014-06-11

EPAs won’t destroy agric sector - Hannah Tetteh

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ms Hannah Tetteh, has stated that the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) will not destroy the local agriculture sector but rather boost and provide increased investments for the sector.
Contrary to beliefs that the EPA would threaten the survival of the local agribusiness sector, she said the agreement would rather provide measures that provide opportunities for investment.
Ms Hannah Tetteh said this when government and the European Union (EU) met with Parliamentarians on June 3 in Accra to seek their support for the EPA.
She said the EU and ECOWAS under the agreement would examine all co-operation measures in order to identify new opportunities for the development and export of agricultural products which has strong international demand.
She also pointed out that the agreement would seek to improve the collection and movement of agricultural products as well as develop research with a view to producing improved seeds and their use by the rural population.
She said in the instance where foreign imports were seen to be undermining local capacity, such products could be reviewed to carry tariffs just as there was an anti-dumping clause to check the dumping of goods on the Ghanaian market.
Ms Tetteh also advised against the conclusion that only frontline businesses mostly owned by foreigners would get access to European markets to the disadvantage of the local industries.
“For instance consider the impact of 30 frontline businesses shutting down their operations in the country and moving to other places where they can benefit from preferential market access,” she asked.
She said the impact would trickle down to every facet of the economy starting from job losses to steep declines along the supply chain.
According to her, the local industries can also take advantage of the liberalised market being offered by the EPA to boost their trade to both ECOWAS and EU markets.
No partisan lenses
The Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr Haruna Iddrissu, also called on the parliamentarians not to look at the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with partisan lenses.
He charged them to critically assess the benefits and challenges of the EPA and come out with a decision that would be in the interest of all and not allow their political affiliation affect their decisions.
He said the dialogue session was to give parliament the opportunity to ask questions about the EPA and also give a detailed presentation of the outcomes of the negotiations at the regional level as well as clarify interim arrangements required to keep the market access to the EU in order to allow a swift transition for Ghana towards the regional EPA.
He pointed out that parliament still remained the most important and influential arm of government and would have the final say before the agreement could be signed or confirmed by government.
EU defends stance
The Head of EU delegation to Ghana, Mr Claude Maerten, also added that the EPA sought to establish an economic and trade partnership designed to bring about development in Ghana and West Africa as a whole.
He called on parliamentarians to weigh the pros and cons of the agreement and decide if it’s good or not.
“It is your daily work as representatives of the citizens of Ghana to make sure core values are put in place by the government and also your role to look at all government issues, notably economic governance, so that your country can grow better,” he said.
“They are the negotiators but in the end, you the parliamentarians have to decide if what they negotiated and accepted will benefit the country,” he added.