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07.10.2008 Business & Finance

Interim EPA has been beneficial – Exporters

By gna

Mr. De Aguire Gotzon, Managing Director of Barry Callbeaut Company Limited, exporters of Cocoa Liqueur, on Tuesday said Ghana’s signing of the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) had been beneficial to exporters.

“The Interim EPA helped us to maintain the status quo for us to continue exporting our goods to the European Market when the Cotonou and Lome agreements expired in December last year,” he said.

Mr. Gotzon said this at a Second Exporters’ Forum organized by the Ghana Export Promotion Council (GEPC) aimed at creating a platform to address challenges of Ghanaian exporters.

The Economic Partnership Agreement is a proposed trade arrangement between Europe and the African, Caribbean and the Pacific Countries that would enable parties to export goods to both sides duty free.

Ghana signed an Interim Agreement also referred to as the EPA Lite last year waiting the conclusion of negotiations of the full deal.

The signing of the Interim EPA by Ghana means that 80 per cent of exports from EU into the developing countries would be on duty-free, tariff-free basis in exchange for 100 per cent market access for developing countries like Ghana to export to the EU.

Mr. Gotzon noted that the issue of the EPA was a matter of life and death for exporters as at December last year but since Ghana signed the interim agreement exporters in Ghana had not suffered anything.

He said even though not all exporters would agree with his opinion, the European Union under the EPA intended to address certain challenges that made developing countries uncompetitive.

He explained that EPA would allow a maximum time of 15 years for Small and Medium Scale Enterprises in developing countries to build their capacities to enable them to compete favourably with their European counterparts.

Mr. Gotzon lauded the Ghana Centre for Policy Analysis (CEPA) for their contributions to the EPA debate and said: “We need to be competitive as a country; we cannot always continue to enjoy subsidies.”

Mr. Edward Collins Boateng, Executive Secretary of the Ghana Export Promotion Council, agreed that the EPA lite had been beneficial and said exporters would have suffered if Ghana had not signed the interim agreement.

He explained that Ghanaian exporters would by now be exporting under the General System of Preference (GSP) which would have affected the export markets since they would have to pay a minimum of about eight per cent tax on their export.