Accra, June 3, GNA – The Ministry of Trade and Industry in collaboration with the European Union (EU) Tuesday organized a seminar for Parliamentarians on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and Required Interim Arrangements between the EU and West Africa.
The objective of the seminar was to give a detailed presentation of the outcomes of the negotiations at the regional level and to clarify interim arrangements required to keep the market access to the EU in order to allow a swift transition for Ghana towards the regional EPA.
Ms Hannah Tetteh, Minister of Foreign Affairs, in a presentation, said there were many misconceptions about the EPA with some Civil Society Organizations and other relevant bodies calling on government not to be part of the Economic Community of West Africa State (ECOWAS) decision to sign the EPA with the EU.
She said Ghana, as a sole country, concluded an Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (IEPA) with the EU in December, 2007, adding that, though Ghana has initialed the IEPA it has not yet signed.
She said the regional EPA currently under political validation provided duty free and quota-free access to the EU market for an unlimited period for all imports originating from Ghana.
She added that in return, Ghana and other West African countries would gradually liberalize 75 per cent of their imports from the EU over 20 years period.
The Foreign Affairs Minister said the objective of the agreement was designed to increase productivity, investment and job creation in Ghana and to intensify and facilitate trade between Ghana, the region, and the EU towards a win-win development relationship.
Mr Haruna Iddrisu, Minister of Trade and Industry, urged the parliamentarians to look at the EPA with non-partisan views, adding that, they should look at their importance and how they could benefit the country.
He said the EU remained the highest recipient of Ghana’s export as it continued to offer the country greater opportunities.
He noted that the West Africa-EU EPA would be well managed to ensure inclusive economic growth and development for Ghana.
Ms Sandra Gallina, Head of Unit of DG Trade, said the rules of the regional EPA would provide for asymmetry between West Africa and the EU, as well as for very generous provision.
She said the regional agreement would be beneficial for all, adding that, it would provide a stable and predictable trade partnership that is attractive to investors.
Alhaji Amadu Sorogo, Member of Parliament for Abokobi-Madina Constituency, and Chairman of the Parliamentary-Select Committee on Trade and Industry, said the seminar on EPA was necessary since it would help the Parliamentarians to understand the EPA very well.
He said there was nothing to be feared about the agreement, adding that “it is a straight forward thing which would help Ghana and the West Africa to develop.”
The EPAs are reciprocal trade arrangements the EU is seeking to sign with West African countries.