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Economic Partnership Agreement Busy 4G - sponsored forum on Economic Partnership ends successfully

The forum, which was under the theme: ‘The EPA and its Implications on Businesses in Ghana’, was patronized by representatives of the government, civil society organizations and the private sector who took turns to make a case for or against the signing of the agreements.

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The second edition of the Graphic Business Breakfast Forum on the implications of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) on businesses has ended; with a call on the government to ensure that the interest of Ghanaians is jealousy protected in any decision the country takes on the matter.

Co-sponsored by Busy, Ghana’s most reliable 4G network and 4G LTE provider of year, 2016 at the recently held GITTA awards, the forum afforded stakeholders the opportunity to deliberate on the impact of the EPAs on local businesses, saw representation from all stakeholders who presented their views and concerns about the agreement. 

The forum, which was under the theme: ‘The EPA and its Implications on Businesses in Ghana’, was patronized by representatives of the government, civil society organizations and the private sector who took turns to make a case for or against the signing of the agreements.

Suggestions and recommendations from the forum are expected to guide the government in taking a decision before the 1st October deadline; by which time Ghana is expected to have signed onto the EPAs or risk reverting to a situation where no concrete agreement will guide trade relations between Ghana and the European Union (EU).

Should that happen, Ghanaian exports to the EU will attract import tariffs unlike under the EPAs, where about 80% of our exports will be tariff-exempt.

READ MORE:GITTA Awards Busy wins LTE Provider; IT Team of the Year

The Union is currently one of the biggest export destinations for Ghana’s exports, majority of which are non-traditional exports (NTEs) and cocoa derivatives.

In return for the 100 per cent market access and tariff free exports to the EU, Ghana, like any of the African Caribbean Pacific (ACP)ACP countries, are also expected to grant 80 per cent market access to selected imports from the EU over the 10-year period that the partnership agreement will last.

The Director of Multilateral and Bilateral Trade at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Mr. Anthony Nyame Baafi, said at the forum that studies by the government on the EPA showed that Ghana would gain more than it will lose under the EPA.

He mentioned increased exports and wider market access as some of the benefits the country will enjoy should we as a country sign this agreement.

The CEO of the Private Enterprise Federation (PEF), Nana Osei Bonsu, however, said the EPA in their current state were inimical to the progress of the private sector; hence the need for the government to take a second look at them.

At best, Nana Bonsu said Ghana should join hands with its peers in the sub-region to renegotiate the terms of the agreement to make it more beneficial to both EU and the ACP countries. Failure to do so, he said the EPA will only be benefiting the EU while crippling the industrial base of Ghana and other ACP countries.

The Coordinator of the Third World Network, Dr. Yao Graham, shared similar sentiments. Beyond revenue losses, in the form of tariff removals on imports from the EU, Dr. Graham said signing onto the EPA in their current state would mean that Ghana and its peer ACP countries will be putting the nail on their manufacturing sectors; an area that holds the key to the sustainable development of the region. He said estimates by the Network showed that Ghana could lose over 40,000 jobs should it go ahead to sign the agreement.

In principle, Dr. Graham said the network and like-minded civil society organizations on the continent, were not against the EPAs but were concerned that the EU would use the agreement to further collapse the economies of the signatory countries.

Currently, all 16 countries in ECOWAS have signed except Nigeria, Mauritania and The Gambia. 

The Graphic Business forum was the second in the year and formed part of the outcomes of a partnership between the Graphic Communications, Busy and other sponsors.

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