The Convention People’s Party (CPP) has cautioned the government that signing the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) will have a negative effect on the local manufacturing sector, as it will put a minimum of 43,000 direct jobs at risk.
A press statement signed by the Director of Communication for CPP, Nii Armah Akomfrah, said the tariff revenue loss to Ghana over the full implementation period of the EPA (up to 2022) was calculated to be in a minimum of $90 million annually.
The statement also quoted the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s estimate, which is $150 million annually, and the United Nations and the South Centre’s estimate, which is $374 million annually.
The statement, therefore, pointed out that Ghana was expected to lose between US$1.12 billion and US$5.23 billion over a 14-year period.
“This is the equivalent of up to 30 highways or ultra-modern hospitals,” the statement explained.
Loss of policy space
The statement noted that the import and export tariffs were valuable trade policy tools and signing of the EPA would take away the use of this important policy tool due to World Trade Organisation rules, which tie government hands and stop it from having flexibility and control over our own trade policy.
The country, thus, will lose the option of using tariffs and price mechanism as a means of protecting local industries and addressing balance of payment deficits.
The EPA will, therefore, according to the statement, derail the agenda to increase the manufacturing capacity and enhance productive capabilities of the country’s human resources.
Loss of sovereignty
According to the party, signing the EPA will bar Ghana from entering into any trade agreement with a third party, which secures the interest of the EU, but deprives Ghana of the opportunity to enter any trade agreement with other developing countries such as China, India or Brazil. Overall, our ability to manoeuvre within our own policy space is curtailed.
Loss of regional integration
The statement observed that the current weaknesses stemming from conflicting and overlapping regional trade agenda meant that signing the EPA would further undermine the development of regional markets.
The ECOWAS region, according to the statement, is an economic space and most of the domestic job-creating industries export mainly to the regional market.
Therefore, going it alone to sign the EPA will attract retaliation from players who want to protect their market, especially from Nigeria.
There was also the budding regional financial services and infrastructure market that Ghanaian companies could tap into and signing the the EPA would undermine common political solutions to common economic problems, the statement pointed out.
Loss of goals on industrialisation
Signing the EPA, the statement said, would further de-industrialise the Ghanaian and West African economies with its negative effects on employment and employment creation.
It was because of those losses that the CPP, the Trades Union Congress (TUC), the Third World Network, the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), the Christian Council of Ghana, the Pentecostal churches and numerous groups across the country were against the EPA, the statement concluded.