Ghana to sign interim EPA agreement with EU

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Trade Minister Hanna Tetteh

Citifmonline.com | Thu 13th January, 2011

Ghana to sign interim EPA agreement with EU

Listen to Hanna Tetteh

Ghana will go ahead and sign an Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (IEPA) with the European Union this year following the lack of progress at the ECOWAS level.

The Interim Economic Partnership Agreement will among other things give Ghana Duty and Quota free access into the EU for all imports with transition periods for rice and sugar. Ghana will in return liberalize 80% of imports from the EU.

Ghana has been pursuing a regional Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU but the process has continuously stalled because members from the West African sub-region have failed to come to a consensus on critical issues in the EPA.

According to Minister of Trade and Industry Hanna Tetteh, the delay has left Ghana disadvantaged hence the need to side-step ECOWAS and seek Ghana’s interest first.

“In any year, at least 40% of our exports go to the European Union, and therefore for us the EU is a significant trading partner. So notwithstanding the fact that as a regional entity we are unable to make progress, we certainly have to protect our access to markets.”

She also pointed out different countries within ECOWAS are treated differently by the EU. “Ghana, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire that are developing countries and non-LDC (Less Developed Countries) and therefore we are not able to benefit from the same kind of arrangements as the countries within ECOWAS that are LDCs and can benefit from the everything but arms initiative, and so necessarily we have to look at things differently.

“Cote d’Ivoire has signed its Interim EPA agreement, Nigeria has decided not to sign the EPA agreement and gone on the GSP+. We would not be competitive if we went on the GSP+ framework and therefore we are in the process of making sure that this year we can finalise arrangements with regards to our IEPA given the lack of progress at the ECOWAS level.”

The Economic Partnership Agreement is a scheme to create a free trade area between the European Union and African countries and the Caribbean and Pacific Group of States.

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source: Citifmonline