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Opinions Mon, 28 Jul 2014

Ibn Chambas got it wrong on EPA

I just had an opportunity to listen to the full address you gave at the Prof Mills' anniversary lecture. You deserve commendations for that splendid performance but I still have issues with certain aspects of your address. I have already expressed my reservations about the lean government aspect as well as the 200 asylum seekers, linked to the economic quagmire.

My issue this time is about the Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU and its linkage to the ACP-EU connection. People have started making argument to the effect that, government ought to have consulted you before adding its blessings to the agreement and those making such arguments, base their position on what you said about the EPA. My problem is, as the former Secretary General of ECOWAS, you may know some of the dynamics leading to this EPA issue and how controversial it is.

You mentioned the ACP angle, but the fact is, in May 1975 when Ghana together with 15 other West African countries signed the ECOWAS treaty in Lagos, more than seven members including Ghana ratified the treaty making it possible for it to come into force in accordance with its principles, just around that period, ECOWAS, ACP and the then EEC set up a secretariat. This secretariat in fact was set up to service Ghana's relationship with the ECOWAS on one hand and that of African, Caribbean and Pacific group of countries with the then European Community on the other.

The ACP which was made up of 46 countries including Ghana from Africa and the Caribbean and the pacific, signed the Lome convention in Lome Togo which established the basis for commercial and economic cooperation between the ACP and the then European Economic Community, when Britain, Ireland and Denmark acceded to the treaty of Rome, three options for association were offered the 46 developing countries under Protocol No 22 of the treaty of Accession. This offer conformed with the earlier practice of allowing 18 mainly French speaking West African countries to associate with the EEC under the Younde convention. Consequently, the EEC invited the 46 countries singly and had expected the negotiations to have been conducted on a country to country basis.

It was feared then, that the Younde group with their previous bargaining experience, would be more interested in improving upon the Younde convention under new offer to the detriment of any developing country, that might negotiate individually. Fortunately, there were institutional links between the 46 countries; the commonwealth links Africa with the Caribbean and the Pacific whilst the OAU then links the Younde group. As a result, a sense of solidarity emerged to face Europe together I think Dr must remember the Guyana conference. Ghana sent a powerful delegation and the meeting was chaired by our commissioner for economic planning. Infact we helped to institutionalize the ACP group, established the machinery to execute the Lome convention and many others.

The question is, have our leaders capitalized on these facts enumerated to positively and vigorously push forward this agenda. The disparities you mentioned came about because of the many military coup in the sub region after 75,Ivory coast made capital use of the Younde convention and exported certain items outside whiles her door were opened to foreign good coming especially from France. We can't always dwell in the ideological zone whiles nations brace up for positive competition to have their fair share of the global economic hand-outs.

The other point is, you were around when this EPA issue surfaced, I have documents which suggest that, you didn't openly criticize. EPA during your tenure, but ironically, facilitated the passing through of the document. I am getting more confused with your current position. I think the time to encourage ourselves is now, Africa needs the world, the world likewise needs Africa to build a global village fitting for all.

We shouldn't allow persons who think only about political convenience, reverse the pattern of trade and industry which this country has known for centuries. If we really seek to make Ghana a master of its own destiny then we must be ready to go for tough but gainful competitions that stagnating in our jurisdiction all because of competition phobia.

I have narrated these facts for all to understand that, this government isn't the first to enter into such agreements and wouldn't be the last, if around 75,the then military regime under Acheampong, made prudent moves to go for the kill, then why this lackadaisical approach to such economic opportunities. Doctor, contrary to your position that industries may crumple up, effective competitions would energize our industries and make them more efficient, we must encourage government to create the enabling environment for profitable business. These are the issues we must consider than confusing our government with these sort of panic revelations.

I salute you Doctor, apart from these few issues I have with your presentation, I think, you deserve the admiration of all for that wonderful performance.

Thank You

Source: Ohenenana Obonti Krow || Spy News Agency

Columnist: Krow, Ohenenana Obonti