Business News of 2014-07-10

Gov’t to manage EPA effectively - Haruna Iddrisu

The Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, has given the assurance that the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between West Africa and the European Union (EU) will be well-managed if consummated to ensure economic growth and development in Ghana.

According to the minister, per the new arrangement, the West Africa-EU EPA will offer Ghana a market access of 75 per cent with a transitional period of 20 years, something he said “is better than Ghana’s Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (IEPA) with the EU, which offers 80 per cent market access with a transitional period of 15 years.”

“In the interest of regional integration and to continue to help its exports to the EU enjoy market access, Ghana will be guided by the collective position of ECOWAS in conformity with the region’s common goal,” he said.

The occasion was an Inter-Institutional Committee (ICC) meeting which forms part of the Trade Negotiating Capacity Building (TNCB) programme funded by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Swedish International Agency for Development Cooperation (SIDA) in Accra.

Currently, Ghana, as well as ECOWAS member countries, are deadlocked over whether or not to sign the EPA, which seeks to create a free trade area between the EU and the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States.

Mr Iddrisu maintained that Ghana was of the view that other clauses in the West Africa EPA, including rules of origin, most favoured nations (MFNs), non-execution clause and agricultural subsidies, were more favourable than what was in Ghana’s Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (IEPA).

The primary focus of Trade Negotiating Capacity Building (TNCB) meeting was to review the functions of the ICC in Ghana and assess its future needs, as well as brainstorm to find solutions to help overcome some challenges thwarting the efforts of ECOWAS member states at intervening effectively in international negotiations and multilateral trade agreements.

It was also to build the capacity of the ECOWAS Commission to empower it to negotiate on behalf of its member states.

The Project Coordinator of TNCB of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr Kolawole Sofola, reiterated Ghana’s regional power in West Africa and on the African continent, and said to ensure sustained economic growth and the attainment of international targets such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), it was essential that Ghana worked to maximise advantages inherent in the international trading system.

This, he said, could be achieved through active participation in the multilateral negotiations of the Doha Development Agenda, as well as the implementation of obligations, commitments and decisions taken at the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference held in Bali in December last year.

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