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25.12.2007 Business & Finance

Ghana has given out much more to the European Commission than it can gain

By Panapress

Ghana has given out much more to the European Commission than it can gain in the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement the two sides have signed, Third World Network, a trade advocacy group, has said.

Mr Tetteh Hormeku, Head of Programmes of TWN, was quoted by the Ghana News Agenc y as saying the agreement did committed government to liberalise an overwhelming proportion of its imports from the EU without clear cut policy as to which sectors would be affected.

He said the agreement dubbed "stepping stone" was more of "quick sand". TWN camp aigned very hard for countries not to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement (E P A)

Ghana's interim agreement provides for the immediate abolition of tariffs on virtually all exports to Europe and the gradual dismantling over 15 years of tariffs on 80 percent of imports from the 27-member EU bloc.

The remaining 20 per cent of imports are deemed "sensitive products" which will be subject to tariffs even after the 15-year transition period to promote econom i c development, food security, employment and government revenue generation.

By the terms of the agreement, the government committed itself to a schedule by which different tariffs on categories of products would be removed at different t imes.

All tariffs must be removed on some of these products in five years starting fro m 2009 while others must be eliminated by 2017.

Mr Hormeku said the agreement did not specify the total percentage of goods to beliberalized according to the categorization schedule.

"This is only implied in the categorization of the goods for liberalization whic h was supplied by the European Union, according to which about 20 per cent of im ports fall under the category of goods not to be liberalized," he said.

He said it was wrong for government to commit itself to future negotiations in a reas of investment, competition, trade in services and intellectual property whe n such issues had been rejected by ECOWAS.

Ghana is the second West African country after Cote d'Ivoire to sign an interim agreement, as developing countries rush to prevent disruption in their exports to the EU, the world's biggest trading bloc.

ECOWAS Commission President Mohamed Ibn Chambas told the Ghana News Agency in an interview that the community supported specific interim arrangements to allow export of goods only to continue, so long as they did not pre-empt talks on a broader regional EPA text.