ECOWAS Will Find A Unified Position On EPA – Mahama

President John Mahama has pledged Ghana’s support to a regional negotiated Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), whilst warning against country specific agreements within the sub-region.

According to the president, Ghana will support the regional effort at coming up with an agreeable position on the issues involved to aid in having a regional front to sign the compact agreement.

In a meeting with a delegation of ECOWAS parliamentarians led by its speaker Senator Ike Ekweremadu at the flagstaff house, President Mahama warned against individual countries within the West African sub-region signing the EPA independent of ECOWAS.

“I wish to state that Ghana is in favour of the negotiation of a sub-regional EPA .It will be disastrous if we implement the EPA unilaterally as individual countries. It is much better for us to negotiate as a sub-region,” President Mahama told the delegation.

The ECOWAS parliamentarians were at the flagstaff to congratulate President Mahama on his recent election as ECOWAS chairman and also to urge him on to use his good offices to engineer changes with the support of the ECOWAS parliament.

Commenting on the need for an aggressive inter-regional trade, President Mahama indicated how he will use his office to ensure that a technical committee is formed by ECOWAS to streamline the various issues that needs to be addressed so that ECOWAS signs the Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union.

According to the president “Ghana will continue to play the facilitative role especially now that we have assumed the Chairmanship of ECOWAS, it is our intention to call a meeting of a technical grouping to narrow down the issues that are outstanding so that we can move ahead and complete the negotiations of the EPA with the European Union.”

He was hopeful the initiative would receive the support of the ECOWAS Parliament.

Commenting on the various trade barriers that prevent smooth trading within the sub-region, President Mahama called for a collaborative effort from ECOWAS heads of state to ensure that such barriers are removed.

According to him, more opportunities exist in trade between the various countries in the sub-region than any other they can think of.

He indicated that rather than think of the negatives of liberalizing trade amongst the countries of West Africa, the initiative should be viewed as a win-win situation.

He lamented the low volume of trade amongst countries in the sub-region and promised to lead a change in paradigm as the ECOWAS Chair.

President Mahama indicated that he is optimistic with the help of the ECOWAS Parliament and with the support of the various heads of states the current challenges of the sub-region will be addressed.

Meanwhile he has expressed disgust at the mayhem Nigeria is witnessing from the activities of Boko Haram and pledges the support of ECOWAS to help address the issue. On his part the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Senator Ike Ekweremadu pledged the support the regional parliamentary block and presented a letter of congratulation to President Mahama on his assumption of office as ECOWAS Chair.

He called on President Mahama as ECOWAS Chair to always call on them anytime he needs their assistance to pursue a policy within the sub-region. He further enumerated various challenges that have bedeviled the sub-region which needs the attention of the Heads of State of the region.

From security issues to trade issues Senator Ike Ekweremadu recommended a collaborative effort from all in addressing it.

The delegation included Ghana’s Speaker of Parliament Edward Doe Adjaho, First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Ebo Barton Oduro and Ghanaian legislatures who are members of the ECOWAS Parliament.

The Members of the ECOWAS Parliament are in Ghana to have a two day dialogue on the challenges of border crossing, opportunities for trade and finance for ECOWAS countries at the Accra International Conference Centre from the 24th to the 25th of April 2014.