Report by Terry Abban, for Inform Ghana
The Association of Ghanaian Industries (AGI) have asked the government not to be cowed into ratifying the EPA, but to put the machinery in place for counter offers against the impact of not signing. In a statement signed by the president of the AGI, Mr James Asare-Adjei, the AGI said the EPA will not serve the best interests of Ghana or West Africa.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Heads of State have agreed to resolve some pending technical issues in the Economic Partnership Agreement at their summit in Yamoussoukro which will ensure free trade between the European Union (EU) and the African Caribbean Pacific group (ACP). Terms of the agreement, which may allow Ghana to export to the EU with a 100% exempt from customs and other duties also require Ghana to eliminate tariffs on 75% on imports from the EU.
In the press release, the AGI focused on five points on why they believe the agreement will not benefit Ghana and its economy.
1. They expressed concerns on the impact of the agreement on the national agenda of ensuring that Ghana becomes an industrialised country, mainly on tax revenues and employment. They also suggested the implementation of some basic policy regimes like the Ghana Industrial Policy, Private Sector Development Strategy II (PSDS II) and the Ghana Export strategy which they believe would have offered Ghana a strong negotiation position.
2. They emphatically downplayed the nature of the agreement, which is perpetual in nature, adding that the agreement will lock the countries long term economic prospects into an irreversible agreement which gives the EU unwarranted trade advantage.
3. They expressed concerns on the fact that the EU has negotiated separate accords with different regions, which they believe it’s an approach that can weaken the ACP states’ collective bargaining power.
4. The lack of a guaranteed investment and developmental assistance in the agreement was also of a major concern to them, emphasizing on the absence of provisions within the EPA for the beneficiary country to that effect.
5. They also showed concerns of the possibility of countries outside the EU to reroute goods through the EU to evade import duties and seeing tracking goods outside the EU under the Rules of Origin clause a major challenge the country’s capacity may not be enough to tackle.
They added that to date, the full EPA document has not been made available, which limits the opportunity for the general public to get well informed about the EPA provisions. they called broader consultations on effects of signing the EPA and if possible, explore available options.
They concluded by suggesting that the EPA shouldn’t only be a trade trade agreement, but a development-oriented agreement, and also urged government to use its position as the chair of ECOWAS to build consensus from member states to negotiate for better options in the interest of the entire region.
Download the full press release here.