Posted: Friday 18th July 2014 at 8:06 am

TUC condemns ‘inimical’ EPA; prays Parliament to reject it


The Trades Union Congress is indicating to the Parliament of Ghana not to ratify the Economic Partnership Agreement reached between ECOWAS and European Union.

The mouthpiece of Ghanaian workers described the deal as ‘inimical’ and has condemned it in no uncertain term.

At the 45 th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Governments on July 10, 2014 in Accra, the sub regional economic grouping, after over 11 years of intense negotiations, agreed to sign the partnership agreement.

The agreement for instance 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.

An European Commission statement issued hours after ECOWAS took its final decision noted that on 17th March, the EU Foreign Affairs Council confirmed EU support of at least €6.5 billion for West Africa during 2015-2020.

But Ghana’s Trades Union Congress in a statement issued by its Secretary General, Kofi Asamoah said the decision is contrary to the long held views and positions expressed by experts, stake-holders and ordinary citizens and corroborated by reputable institutions such as the United Nations.

‘TUC calls upon Parliamentarians to demonstrate due leadership when this inimical agreement is presented to them for ratification,’ he cajoled the legislators.                                                                 

He said the terms and provisions of the EPA will lead to a total collapse of the domestic manufacturing and other productive sectors due to ‘undue pressure from the subsidized goods from Europe and loss of revenue from trade taxes’.                       

He remarked: ‘One expects ECOWAS leaders to pursue a trade policy that protects local goods, encourage home industry and taxes foreign products thus putting the burden of revenue on the foreign goods; a trade policy that secures the ECOWAS, or for that matter, an African market for the African producer and not one that upholds European standards for the European worker.’

Mr. Kofi Asamoah was worried that even though ECOWAS leaders fully understood the consequences of the agreement,  yet they went  ahead to sign the EPA, ‘putting the region’s development in jeopardy thus curtailing their own governments’ ability to take charge of their home grown developmental policies, is very strange, to say the least’.

 
Below is TUC’s Statement
                                TUC GHANA CONDEMNS APPROVAL OF EPAS  

The Trades Union Congress TUC (Ghana) adds its voice to; in no uncertain terms condemn the decision of West African leaders to approve the signing of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the European Union (EU).  The decision, taken at the 45 th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Governments on July 10, 2014 in Accra, is contrary to the long held views and positions expressed by experts, stake-holders and ordinary citizens and corroborated by reputable institutions such as the United Nations.

Several Stake-holders including Faith-based organisations, trade associations, farmer-based organizations, women groups, Ordinary citizens, non-governmental organizations and private sector players have repeatedly demonstrated over the years that the EPAs are against the fundamental developmental needs and imperatives of the economies of West Africa.

The terms and provisions in the EPA text as it stands now, will lead to a total collapse of the domestic manufacturing and other productive sectors simply due to undue pressure from the subsidized goods from Europe and loss of revenue from trade taxes. Committing the ECOWAS Region to develop a roadmap and modalities for further liberalization and deregulation of a range of areas including those not required by International rule or obligation within six months of its adoption, shows how tilted the EPAs are.

One expects ECOWAS leaders to pursue a trade policy that protects local goods, encourage home industry and taxes foreign products thus putting the burden of revenue on the foreign goods; a trade policy that secures the ECOWAS, or for that matter, an African market for the African producer and not one that upholds European standards for the European worker. The EPAs make the ECOWAS worker completely dependent on foreign demand and price.

ECOWAS leaders fully understanding the consequences yet going ahead to sign the EPAs and putting the region’s development in jeopardy thus curtailing their own governments’ ability to take charge of their home grown developmental policies, is very strange, to say the least. This is complete pain inflicted on the people of West Africa in return for a paltry aid (far less than total WA trade taxes) promised by the European Union and an attempt to save a few groups of exporters when indeed credible alternatives exist that can address the concerns and needs of all stake-holders.

The TUC (Ghana) supports the call by the Economic Justice Network (EJN) that this agreement cannot be accepted by ordinary workers, men and women of this country who struggle daily in the midst of the precarious economic situation. TUC calls upon Parliamentarians to demonstrate due leadership when this inimical agreement is presented to them for ratification.  

For: TRADES UNION CONGRESS (GHANA)
 
KOFI ASAMOAH
SECRETARY GENERAL

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