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About signing the EPA

May 6, 2014, 9:23 AM

As we were about to go to bed at The Point newspaper last evening, we received the following “exclusive” news in our email inbox:

“Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Ghana would join the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union.

“A source close to Government has told Joy Business this has been influenced by the threat to Ghana’s exports to the EU if it does not sign the trade agreement.

“The source also argues government is taking this position because ECOWAS has decided to sign the full pact. Ghana had indicated it will support the position of ECOWAS on the EPAs, but Nigeria disagrees.

“ECOWAS members are expected to converge this month to finalize the agreement after the regional body failed to reach a consensus on the deal during its meeting in Ivory Coast in April.

“Meanwhile, some African trade ministers are reported to have kicked against the signing of the EPA, which they say would impact negatively on the continent’s effort towards industrialization and job creation.

“The ministers said this during the extra-ordinary session of the Conference of African Union Ministers of Trade in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, over the week-end.

“The meeting was convened to discuss Africa’s common position ahead of the October 1, 2014 deadline for signing the EPA with the EU; the establishment of the Common Free Trade Area (CFTA) by 2015; extension of Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) by the American Government for 15 more years; and Africa’s strategic response to World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations, among others.

“According to the European Union, Ghana has until October 1, 2014 to sign the pact or would have to pay tariffs on every export from Ghana to Europe. According to the UN Economic commission, Ghana could lose about 300 million dollars in revenue if it signs the EPA.

“The Economic Partnership Agreement allows Ghana to have 100 percent access to the European market except for rice and sugar, while EU countries will have 75 percent access to the Ghanaian market duty free and quota free.”

It is clear from the information above that we have come to “decision time” in ECOWAS. Indeed, this is a crucial moment in our relations with our traditional partners.

We hope our heads and not our hearts; an understanding of the concrete realities of our world and not our emotions or wishes, will guide us in our struggle to arrive at a sensible position on the EPA issue.

"It is rare to find a business partner who is selfless. If you are lucky it happens once in a lifetime."

Michael Eisner