Be Tactical In Signing EPAs – Gyan Baffour

From left: Fred Oware, Prof Gyan Baffour, Osei Kyie Mensah-Bonsu and Osafo Marfo

The Ranking member of the Trade, Industry and Tourism Committee of Parliament, Prof George Gyan Baffour, has advised government officials to be tactical in signing up to the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the European Union (EU).

Prof Gyan Baffour said Government officials need supreme negotiating skills so that Ghana would not turn out to be the eventual losers in terms of the economic benefits from the EPAs.

He said that in principle the EPAs are not bad and present a major opportunity for Ghana to explore the European market, as well as increase its trade volumes, but goods from Ghana may not be able to compete favourably on the European market.

‘Terms of agreement must inure to the benefit of all those going into the agreement and not one party taking advantage of the other,’ he said.

Prof Gyan Baffour gave the advice on Tuesday in an interview at a stakeholders’ meeting on the EPAs in Accra.

The meeting, which was organised by the Ministry of Trade and Industry with support from the European Union, was meant for Members of Parliament of the Finance, Trade, Industry and Tourism and the Foreign Affairs Committees of Parliament to enable them appreciate the knitty gritties of the EPAs.

‘As a country, we have to scrutinize the details of the agreement very well before committing ourselves,’ he said.

If there is no opportunity now for such scrutiny then when the time comes for a review of the agreement in five years’ time, the government must not hesitate to do that, he added.

The chairman of the Finance Committee of Parliament, James Klutse Avedzi, told BUSINESS GUIDE that it is clear that the government does not have any alternative than to sign up to the agreement.

He advised government to take advantage of the opportunity provided by the European Union.

‘We must take advantage and increase production and equalize the revenue loss that will emanate from import duties,’ he said, adding that the government must improve the capacity of the private sector to increase production.

‘When we increase our export, we can also greatly benefit from export duties and corporate taxes,’ he indicated.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Hanna Tetteh, admitted at the meeting that it has not been easy in agreeing to the EPAs since it comes with its complexities.

She said the negotiations are done at the regional levels with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which is doing so on behalf of member countries who are also making the necessary technical inputs.

She allayed fears expressed by opponents of the EPAs that Ghana would be at a disadvantage if it signs the EPAs, stressing that all the seven part agreements would address the necessary fears of opponents of the agreements.

‘Economic powers like Nigeria, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire in the sub-region have all the advantages in this agreement and that we only need to empower the private sector to be more competitive,’ she noted.

 By Thomas Fosu Jnr

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