General News of Thursday, 17 April 2014
The European Union Representative in Ghana, Claude Maerten has been heckled by participants at an ongoing forum on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) in Accra.
The subject of the EPA has been hotly debated in the country with civil society organizations pushing for it to be rejected.
Joy News’ Paa Kwesi Asare, who was covering the event reports that the EU representative was given a chance by the organisers to clarify a point about the agreement to the chagrin of the participants.
Conspicuous among the hecklers was Dr. Yao Graham of the Third World Network, a civil society group that had fiercely fought against the EPA over the years.
The displeased participants would not spare a second of their time to listen to whatever Mr. Claude Maerten had to say because the forum was meant to be a sort of an internal affair.
Several appeals by the moderator of the forum, Sydney Casely Hayford, a financial analyst, for sanity to prevail were blatantly rejected, Paa Kwesi observed.
He reports that it had to take the intervention of the Minister of Trade and Industry, Haruna Iddrisu to keep flaring tempers down.
Eventually, the civil society groups had their way, and the EU representative had no choice but to walk off the stage amidst clapping from the groups, Paa Kwesi said.
“It somehow mars the beauty of an otherwise intellectual debate,” he said.
In the meantime, government says it is compelled to sign the controversial Economic Partnership Agreement because there is no alternative to the advantages it provides.
Addressing the stakeholders at a meeting, Foreign Affairs Minister, Hanna Tetteh said the country would rather benefit if it signed the pact.
“This EPA is not imposed on us by the European Union. If we don’t want to have the duty free access we could move on to the general system of preferences.”
According to the UN Economic Commission, Ghana would lose about 300 million dollars in revenue if we signed 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.