Business News of Thursday, 4 October 2007
Accra, Oct. 4, GNA - The Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) on Thursday added its voice to those of other advocacy groups urging government not to sign the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), currently being negotiated with the European Union.
Mr Tony Oteng-Gyasi, President of the Association told a business luncheon of industrialists that further liberalisation of the economy being sought by the EU under the agreement would spell the doom of local industries.
The EU is seeking under the EPAs a reciprocal trade regime between her and the ACP countries. That means the ACP countries would have to open up their markets to European goods in order to access the EU markets.
Under the current regime, the ACP countries were not obliged to open up their markets in return for the quota and duty free export access to the EU market.
"Indeed, government must be cautious about the decision to sign as it has negative implications for the economy," Mr. Oteng-Gyasi said. The EU, however, claimed that the over 30 years of free market access granted under the Cotonou Agreement, the economies of ACP countries had not seen any appreciable improvements.
Trade between the two blocs had rather been on the decline. Secondly, that the current Cotonou agreement, which expires at the end of December, is incompatible with World Trade Organisation rules that demand equal treatment for all member countries.
Mr. Oteng-Gyasi said it would be very difficult for local manufacturing firms with high production cost to compete fairly with goods from Europe.
Besides, he said, the EU pledge to replace loss revenue through development aid should be dismissed outright. "We are against the principle of replacing trade with aid," he stressed.
Various civil society and advocacy organizations, striving for agriculture and trade justice, had asked government not to sign the deal because it would destroy livelihoods.
They argued that the current level of destruction of livelihoods through unfair trade practices was enough reason why governments and for that matter West African countries should not sign the Economic Partnership Agreements with the European Union. The government has said she would not do anything that would undermine the sovereignty of the nation.
Speaking at the same forum, Mr. Emmanuel Doku, Commissioner of the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service, has assured the industrialists that CEPS would continue to provide more client focused services to meet their needs.
He said it was in this direction, that the Service had been embarking on various initiatives and providing an information technology infrastructure to meet industry demands. In addition the Service was improving its monitoring system to have a better understanding of the challenges of the various systems put in place to assist the growth of industry.