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Opinions of Thursday, 3 April 2014

Columnist: Tawiah-Benjamin, Kwesi

The Failed EPA is a Vindication for the Poor Ghanaian Producer

1 April, 2014

Following the failure of ECOWAS to seal the Economic Partnership Agreement over the weekend, ActionAid Ghana wishes to commend the new Chairman of ECOWAS, President John Mahama, and other members of the regional block, particularly Nigeria, for exercising great caution and not hastening to sign the agreement. By making a definitive pause to seriously study and consider the technicalities of the EPA and its effects on local production and the economies of West African states, ECOWAS has demonstrated courage and reasonable tactfulness in the face of mounting pressure from civil society, trade unions and local producers in the sub region.
Even before the West African states committed to the interim Economic Partnership Agreement, ActionAid Ghana and other concerned civil society organisations raised critical issues about the capacity of local Ghanaian industries to compete with products from the European Union under a trade agreement which would liberalise 75% of the Ghanaian market for EU access. The EPA between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries has been fraught with technical and integration problems since talks began about the need for regional and sub-regional blocks to properly position themselves in the world economy, to benefit from the new international economic order and globalisation.
On various platforms and several fora, we argued that an economic agreement that does not protect local producers, and seeks to disadvantage and expose them to unhealthy competition from foreign goods, is injurious to the poor small scale farmer who is already battling the forces of demand and supply in an unstable economy. As a human rights organization committed to ending poverty and injustice in Ghana and around the world, ActionAid Ghana considers ambitious but sensitive economic policy decisions as the seedbed for effective action against poverty. Being a middle income country on the cusp of development, Ghana’s economic policies and trade agreements should focus on how to build the capacity of the poor local producer, and enhance our weak industrial base. This is a practical way to lift people out of poverty.
While we commend ECOWAS for paying heed to our call not to sign the EPA, we also wish to congratulate President Mahama on his appointment as the Chairman of the influential regional block. As he coordinates the affairs of the block for success in his three proposed thematic areas of peace and security, economic integration and infrastructural development, we hope the government of Ghana and other ECOWAS members would be guided by the proposals advanced by ActionAid and other civil society groups regarding the EPA, to promote the interests of our hardworking local producers and enhance opportunities for people living in poverty.
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Issued by Kwesi Tawiah-Benjamin, PR and Communications Coordinator
Benjamin.Tawiah@actionaid.org, 0507712476
First Media Contact: Sumaila Abdul-Rahman, Country Director, ActionAid Ghana
Sumaila.Rahman@actionaid.org, 0204668616
Second Media Contact: Saani Yakubu, Deputy Country Director
Saani.Yakubu@actionaid.org, 0244292496