Accra, July 26, GNA – The Government would ensure that Ghanaians get a better deal under the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA), Mr Ibrahim Murtala Mohammed, the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry (MoTI) has stated.
He said the fact that negotiations towards the final signing of the EPA had dragged on for year’s showed that the Government had the welfare of Ghanaians at heart.
The EPA is a reciprocal trade arrangement between the EU and the sub-regional bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Its interim agreement was endorsed by the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS on July 10, 2014 in Accra.
The EPA would entail the gradual removal of tariffs on a substantial number of imports coming into Ghana from the EU in 20 years with five years moratorium from its implementation.
In return, the EU would continue to offer duty-free access to the EU market as well as a 6.5 billion Euro development programme.
Mr Mohammed, who was speaking on Tuesday at the Graphic Business/Stanbic Bank Breakfast Meeting in Accra, said although there were gains under the EPA, it also came with a cost and Ghanaians must prepare themselves towards how they would benefit from it.
The programme was on the theme: “The EPA and Its Implications for Businesses in Ghana”.
He said Parliament was there to scrutinise every international agreement that government signed to ensure that it was for the benefit of the people.
Mr Kenneth Ashigbey, the Managing Director of Graphic Communications Group Limited, said the breakfast meeting was to stimulate discussions and help shape policies in Ghana.
He said Ghanaians had a stake in the solution of Ghana’s problems and in this election year decisions made should inform the leaders where to go.
Mr Alhassan Andani, the Managing Director of Standbic Bank Ghana Limited, said the result of the debate would go a long way to help ease any tension that may arise between the EU and ECOWAS over the EPA.
Panelists comprise Dr Yaw Graham, the Executive Director of Third World Network, Nana Osei Bonsu, the Chief Executive Officer of Private Enterprises Federation and Mr Anthony K. Nyame-Baafi, the Director of Multilateral, Regional and Bilateral Trade, MoTI.
The meeting was chaired by Dr Vladimir Antwi-Danso, the Director of Academic Affairs, Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College.
Majority of the panelists were of the view that EPA was good for Ghana but called for its review to make it a ‘win-win’ situation for both the EU and Ghana.
However, Dr Graham, who held a dissenting view, urged Ghana to pull out of the EPA.
Nana Osei Bonsu said the private sector was not against the EPA and that it would prefer better negotiation in order to ensure a win-win situation for both the EU and ECOWAS.
Mr Nyame-Baafi said Ghana’s exports to the EU market had been increasing because of the interim EPA.
Dr Antwi-Danso said the EPA is killing regional integration and wondered why the EU lumped the East Africa Community and the Southern Africa Development Community into one bloc.