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Thursday, 26 May 2011

Consolidation of Interim EPA between EU and Ghana

Stakeholders at a Ghana-European Union (EU) Business forum in Accra last week came to a consensus that there is a need for Ghana to consolidate the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (IEPA) initialed with the European Union and the need to speed up negotiations to conclude talks on the regional EPA with ECOWAS for the benefit of industries in the West African Regions and to foster regional integration. The one-day forum organized by the European Union (EU) as part of activities marking this year’s EU-Week celebration to deliberate on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPAs), was attended by a section of the private sector, civil society organizations, government officials and representatives of the European Union. […] The Minister of Trade and Industries, Ms. Hannah Tetteh, in an address to kick-start discussions on the EPA at the forum stressed the need for the Ghanaian business community especially the private sector, local and foreign to lend a voice to discussions on the need for the ratification of the EPA and to tell Ghanaians and civil society the benefits they stand to gain from the agreement as well as how important the EPA is to their industries. “You have more credibility than government and need to tell the people about your experiences with the interim EPA. You must also lead discussions and get involved and push for the consolidation of the EPA”. She also noted that for the EPA to succeed at the regional level with ECOWAS, it was necessary for all member states, especially Nigeria which commands about 60 % of ECOWAS trade, to sign up to the EPA by joining the negotiations. Ms. Tetteh said the problem with the IEPA and EPA at the regional level is the amount of misconception and ignorance in society and the fact that the debate is largely driven by civil society organizations which have opposed it due to wrong perceptions and the fact that they only project the supposedly negative side of issues raised with the trade agreement. […]