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Business News of Thursday, 7 May 2015

Source: GNA

EPA would make Ghanaian firms competitive – Murtala

Mr. Ibrahim Murtala Muhammed, the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry says Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) would improve access to imported European inputs and machinery to help Ghanaian firms compete with the best in the world.

He said this at a three-day workshop to create a strategy to prepare Ghana to derive maximum benefit from the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and reduce its negative impact.

The strategy will comprise EPA accompanying measures, designed to fully exploit European Union and West Africa market access for Ghanaian exports, leverage and utilize the EPA to attract investment.

The EPA is a reciprocal trade arrangement between the EU and the sub-regional bloc, the Economic Community of West African States. It was endorsed by the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS on July 10, 2014 in Accra.

The EPA will entail the gradual removal of tariffs on a substantial number of imports coming into Ghana from the EU in 20 years with five years moratorium from its implementation.

In return, the EU will continue to offer duty-free access to the EU market, as well as a 6.5 billion Euro development programme.

An address read on behalf of the deputy minister at the opening session, said the EPA would improve access to imported European inputs and machinery to help the Ghanaian firms compete with the best in the world.

He said the EPA would further establish the country as an attractive environment for Ghanaian and foreign investors as a low-cost export base for the EU market.

Mr Muhammed said while there are gains, it would be naïve to assume that the EPA would have no costs, since in any large trade deal adjustment, cost would arise in sub-sectors facing import competition.

He said to get the most out of trade agreements, required that the country proactively prepare to meet the challenges as well as prepares to take advantage of opportunities to ensure that the firms were able to compete.

“The EPA presents Ghana with opportunities as well as challenges,” he said, adding that the Ministry of Trade has designed the workshop on accompanying measures to ensure that the country takes full advantage of the EPA.

Mr Muhammed said the workshop is the first step to build a strategy in close collaboration with the private sector stakeholders to help address the actual concerns and obstacles to fully take advantage of the benefits.

Mr Anthony Nyame-Baafi, the Director Multilateral, Regional and Bilateral Trade, Ministry of Trade and Industry, said there would be gradual liberalization of 75 per cent of tariff lines between 2020 and 2035.