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The EPA Is A Mirage, It Should Not Be Ratified

Fri, 25 Apr 2014 Source: Sarpong, Justice

I was watching the news a few weeks ago and a section came up reporting the protestation of the Taiwanese business community against a trade agreement with China. The trade pact laid out a deal to open 80 Chinese service sectors to Taiwan and, in reciprocity, 64 of Taiwan's sectors to China. The business communities in Taiwan feared that China's supreme economic advantage will eventually overwhelm and destroy the Taiwanese businesses. They also feared that the pact will create unemployment in the communities where these businesses were situated. More information is provided in the The Guardian on March 30, 2014 (More than 100,000 protesters rally in Taiwan against trade pact with China -- Protesters say deal was rushed through and could leave Taiwan beholden to China's Communist party leaders). See links below:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/30/100000-protesters-rally-taiwan-trade-pact-china?

INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/21/taiwan-youth-protests-china-trade-deal

A perspective here is warranted. This is similar to an agreement between Ghana and Nigeria allowing citizens from both countries unfettered access to owning banking and lending institutions in each other's country. There are quite a few Nigerian banks in Ghana; this limited influx has elicited uneasiness (and fear in some cases) about the marginalization of Ghanaian banks.

If this scenario is hard to consume by the people in the know, then let's look at what the EPA spells out. The main principles in the EPA, a murf from the CPA, are reciprocity, differentiation, deeper regional integration, and coordination of trade and aid.

Reciprocity -- For the supporters of the EPA, please let the government explain reciprocity and how that would benefit West Africa.

Differentiation -- This again, please let those who support it explain. The president of Ghana says "African leaders must own their economic destiny." I am not sure the president can advocate for the EPA and still make this proclamation.

Deeper regional integration -- Until the 1979 and 1981 Rawlings' coups, Ecowas had implemented the 90-day unrestricted travel within member countries, and moving toward a common currency for member countries. The Francophone countries were against these Ecowas agreements, because France already had unrestricted access to those countries and did not want any interference from other European countries. France also knew that the competition from Ecowas countries would not threaten their hold of the Francophone markets, but a common Ecowas market would open competition into the Francophone markets from other western countries. Bear in mind that during this 1975 period, EEC, as the EU was then called, did not have even a quarter of the structures Ecowas as a body had established. 1979 and 1980 was mentioned, because these are the periods that started the disintegration of Ecowas; this fragile body dependent on land freight was destroyed as a result of the years of closure of Ghana's borders to any significant trade.

Coordination of trade and aid -- Since there is no trade from Ecowas to Europe, there is very little benefit to Ecowas to discuss. Concerning the aid part, the US$6.5 billion promised to the Ecowas countries to help prop up their economies over a five-year period is less than what Anglo-Ashanti Gold makes in a year. Divided amongst the 16 Ecowas countries, this translates to less than US$82 million per year per country. For Ghana, the fluff included in the Ridge Hospital renovation and expansion should be able to cover the proposed aid for about two years.

The stance put up by the Mr. Olusegun Aganga, the Nigerian Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, explains it better in the Premium Times article in the link below.

http://www.premiumtimesng.com/business/157847-nigeria-delayed-signing-euecowas-trade-liberalisation-pact-aganga.html

The bottom-line is that the EPA agreement is not in the slightest of reasoning beneficial to the west African countries. Not only will it not be beneficial to the Ecowas members, it will destroy the economy and social fabric of the member countries. For the EPA advocates, please find out how much Bulgaria has benefited from the EU; they are right there in Europe. For people like Rashid Pelpuo, Minister of State in charge of Public-Private Partnership, and Mr. Haruna Idrissu, minister of trade, what happens when the Truffula trees are gone and there is no market for Thneeds? We know you cannot say "No" to this EPA, if the word were written in front of you, but you can devise other means to get out of it. Tag along the grievances submitted by Nigeria. this is an economic enslavement of Ghana and West Africa as a whole.

SERVICE TO MY NATION, GHANA

Justice Sarpong

(CARDINAL of TRUTH)

Columnist: Sarpong, Justice