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‘We need to take advantage of EPA’- Discussants

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Accra, Feb. 24, GNA – Discussants at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) roundtable discussion on National Economic Growth in Accra had stressed the need for Ghanaians to put behind them the signing of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and focus on how to take full advantage of the agreement.

They said whether ‘this is the time for Ghana to sign the EPA or not, it has already been signed and what we must be doing as a country is to study the agreement, especially areas that would benefit our infant industries and take advantage of it to improve our competitiveness in the world market’.

Dr Eric Osei Assibey, a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Economics, University of Ghana, Legon, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, said the fear that EPA would collapse local industries is neither here nor there and called on technocrats to come up with ideas to make the country’s exports competitive.

He said there are lots of advantages in the EPA such as the tariff free for infant industries and ‘our main concern should be how to improve the country’s exports to become competitive’.

He noted that the EPA has a transitional period of about 20 years and the first five years is geared towards liberalization of infant industries and urged government to take advantage of the agreement to ensure that the country’s export is strengthened.

Ms Eva Lokko, an Information Communication Technology Consultants, stressed the need for the government to use the expertise of the country’s professionals to enhance growth.

She said she believed that the EPA would ‘kill’ local industries because ‘we are not in control to negotiate the parameters on the EPA platform.

She therefore called for intensified education on the EPA to inform the populace on issues on the ground.

Mr Yaw Sarfo Marfo, a former Finance Minister under President John Agyekum Kufuor’s regime, said ‘as a country we need to set our priorities right and make decisions that are advantageous to the country’.

The EPA involves the European Union and its member states, 16 West African countries, the Economic Community of West African states (ECOWAS) and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU).

The agreement fully takes into account the differences in the level of development between the two regions. The EU will provide West African firms with conditions that are more advantageous than those that apply to European exports to Africa. In the negotiations, the EU committed itself to open its market to all West African products as soon as the agreement enters into force.

In exchange, the EU accepted a partial and gradual opening of the West African market only if and when West Africa will be ready to grant more far-reaching concessions to Europe’s main competitors.

Under the terms of the agreement, West Africa will continue to be able to shield its sensitive agricultural products from European competition either by keeping tariffs in place or, when necessary, by imposing safeguard measures.

To support local agricultural production, the EU has also agreed not to subsidise any of its agricultural exports to West Africa, among others. West African companies will also have more flexibility to use foreign components while still benefitting from free access to the EU market. GNA EN-GB X-NONE X-NONE

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