General News of 2014-07-25

Mahama strongly defends EPA

President John Mahama has mounted the strongest defense yet for the decision by Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU) saying, it is the only way to ensure economic growth within the sub-region.

ECOWAS leaders at a recent extraordinary meeting in Accra agreed to sign the EPA after evaluating concerns raised by Civil Society groups and other countries.

However, during a farewell call on President Mahama by the outgoing EU representative in Ghana, Claude Maerteen, the President expressed optimism that the agreement will revamp trade between the two bodies for mutual benefits.

He dispelled the notion held by certain Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) that the agreement is to the detriment of West African countries.

The President said the common external tariffs, which have been passed by ECOWAS when linked with the EPA, “will create a natural progression that allows us to move the integration progress for West Africa forward.”

He noted that the agreement has clauses, which give room for reviews every five years to address any concerns.

“We have negotiated market access for industries that we want to protect and we have put them in the 25 non-market access products and so we do have an agreement on which we can proceed,” he said.

On his part, the outgoing EU representative in Ghana, Claud Maerten praised ECOWAS for agreeing to sign the EPA.

According to him, this surely represents a positive turn around in EU-ECOWAS trade relations.

“Europe is very pleased that under your leadership, ECOWAS has decided to allow the Economic Partnership Agreement to be implemented."

He also commended President Mahama for being proactive in ensuring peace in the ECOWAS sub-region after assuming the position as the chairman of the Commission.

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