The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hanna Tetteh has defended the ratification of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between Ghana and the European Union (EU), saying it will protect jobs and improve the local economy.
According to her, since Ghana is among other things expected to possess about 85 percent of exports to the EU to enjoy tariffs, there is the need to protect such jobs.
“We would see that the penetration into the Ghanaian economy is good because if you look at all the businesses that export to the EU and because of the eighty-five percent local content requirement; you need to consider the linkages between our own local private sector which has not been studied and always overlooked in these arguments,” she explained.
Madam Hanna Tetteh added, “If EU manufacturers divert their attention from Ghana, it is not just those businesses which will be affected but it is all of these other businesses that offer services to them so the economic impact will be significant.”
The Foreign Affairs Minister also argues that Ghana’s failure to agree to the EPA may have compelled businesses to relocate to neighbouring Ivory Coast.
“If the businesses do not have access to duty or quota free access under the IEPA, and their businesses either relocate to Cote D’Ivoire because they have signed the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (IEPA) and possess similar economic conditions like Ghana’s,” she further intimated.
Parliament last Tuesday, August 2, 2016 ratified the interim EPA after nine years of signing unto an interim agreement.
Ghana’s failure to ratify the agreement would have meant that major exporters to the EU market would be required to pay tariffs on their exports, effective October 1st, 2016.
Third World Network disagrees with EPA
The ratification of the EPA has received backlash from agencies like the Third World Network who believe that local manufacturing companies will be affected.
Commenting on the matter, a programmes officer with the Third World Network Africa, Sylvester Bagoroo Citi Business News argued that there was lack of critical examination considering the speed with which Parliament passed the Bill.
“We at TWN Africa we are disappointed with what parliament as an institution has done. This is an agreement that was negotiated for over a decade because there were a lot of dangerous clauses in that agreement. We were expecting parliament to debate it at committee level for months,” he told Citi Business News.
EU advises restraint over renegotiation
Meanwhile the EU has urged Ghana to exercise restraint in renegotiating a deal with the EU over the EPA following the exit of the UK from the EU.
EU’s Ambassador to Ghana, William Hanna believes it will be speculative for any such arguments to be pushed forward as it will take approximately two years to complete processes of UK’s exit from the EU.
“We are not there yet at all; this government has not yet decided or informed any group of what it intends to do in terms of a renegotiation so to speculate about that, is something I wouldn’t like to say,” he observed.
By: Pius Amihere Eduku/citibusinessnews.com/Ghana