The business community and exporters in Ghana have discussed the way forward with the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and the European Union on how to meet the EU’s October 1deadline for signing an Interim EPA.
The discussions, which was held in camera, was organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration and the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
This is also dependent on the signing of the ECOWAS agreement which has been stalled by the decision of Nigeria, the Gambia and Mauritius not to sign.
Addressing the media prior to the discussion, Ms Hanna Tetteh, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, and Acting Minister of Trade, said it had become important for players in the industry to have frank discussions on the issue.
“There are a number of businesses in Ghana who depend on duty-free quota-free access in order to be able to run their businesses; there are also businesses in Ghana who worry about the implications of an EPA on their businesses…thus we wanted to give the opportunity for our private sector to discuss this with each other,” she said.
Ms Tetteh said the removal of the duty-free, quota-free access would not only affect those companies who export to the EU - mainly exporters of non-traditional exports - but also their suppliers, which would also have implications for the job market and unemployment rates as well as Ghana’s competitiveness as an investment destination.
She explained that should Ghana fail to sign an Interim EPA, businesses may relocate to neighbouring countries who had already signed the interim agreement, such as Cote d’Ivoire.
Ms Tetteh said the discussions was the first of several stakeholder discussions that would be held to come to a consensus on the next steps to be taken by Ghana, that is whether or not to sign the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement.
Mr William Hanna, the EU Ambassador to Ghana, who was a resource person, said there was no possibility of an extension of the October 1, 2016 deadline, as Ghana had to be treated the same way as other middle income countries worldwide.