The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah has stated that cabinet has approved measures to sign an interim Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU).
The decision, Citi Business News understands was taken at an emergency cabinet meeting on June 20, 2016.
Speaking to Citi Business News on the sidelines of the first edition of National Trade Facilitation Award, Dr. Spio-Garbrah maintained that there will be some negotiations between the EU and Ghana to reach the interim agreement.
“Its because the EPA agreement itself which the European Union signed with ECOWAS as a group required all members to sign to become valid,” he said.
Meanwhile, Gambia and Nigeria have refused to sign the pact.
Dr. Spio Garbrah explained that Ghana risks attracting severe sanctions that will affect processing companies such as Pioneer Foods and Cocoa processing companies that export to the EU.
He stated that government decided to sign the interim agreement to avert withdrawal of some special privileges that the EU grants to Ghanaian exporters.
Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah argued that Ghanaian exporters especially the fishing industry will collapse if Ghana fails to sign the EPA before the deadline of October 1, 2016.
“The Europeans also have to agree to the fact that Ghana needs only an interim agreement. So there is a little bit of collaboration and coordination, consultation and diplomacy that is going to go back and forth over the next few months,” he said.
Dr. Spio-Garbrah was confident the October 1 deadline will be met as government was committed to signing the interim agreement soon.
Pressure from exporters
Exporters have impressed on government on the need to sign the EPA to prevent the EU from imposing high tariff on some goods exported to the EU zone.
The EPA when signed will allow Ghana to have 100 percent access to the European Market, except for rice and sugar exports, while EU countries will have 75 percent access to the Ghanaian market duty free and quota free.
At the National Trade Facilitation Award organised by the Trade Ministry in collaboration with GCNet, the Global Cargo And Commodities Ltd was the Best Freight Forwarder Large Category, while Teamwork Freight Services merged the best freight forwarder in the small category.
Meanwhile the Food and Drugs Authority was also adjudged the Best Ministry, Department and Agency.
Ghana & Ivory Coast sign interim agreement
The delays in concluding discussions on the Economic Partnership Agreement has largely been attributed to the failure of some West African countries like Nigeria in signing the agreement.
President John Mahama in June this year also assured of continuous trade relations with Ivory Coast despite that country’s decision to sign the EPA.
By: Norvan Acquah – Hayford/citibusinessnews.com/Ghana