Accra, Sept. 29, GNA - Deputy Trade Minister, Mahama Ayariga on Wednesday said a West African-wide Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union would be implemented sooner than later.
EPAs are a reciprocal trade arrangement under which the EU seeks to replace the duty and quota-free access of the African Caribbean and Pacific countries to its market.
Speaking at the opening session of the German-European Business in Ghana Trade Fair (GEREU) organised by the Ghanaian-German Economic Association [GGEA], Mr Ayariga said the regional negotiation is on-going and might be implemented soon after issues bordering on market access, rules of origin and the EPA Development Plan, which seek to mobilise resources to improve competitiveness in the sub-region, are ironed out.
"From very divergent positions initially, the two parties have made very significant efforts aimed at achieving convergence," he said.
The Deputy Minister said Ghana remained committed to securing and sustaining its trade and investment deals with the European Union and would do nothing to disrupt trade between the two parties.
Mr Ayariga said Ghana initialled an interim EPA to ensure that trade was not disrupted between her and the EU while efforts were being made to conclude the regional agreement.
Mr Claude Maerten, Head of EU Delegation in Ghana, said it was important that the West African-wide EPA agreement was sealed to remove uncertainty between EU and countries in the sub-region.
He said the interim agreement could be under threat under World Trade Organisation rules and it was essential that the accord are finished on time to stem uncertainty over export contracts and eliminate roadblocks to trade.
Mr Hans Christian Winkler, Charge d' Affaires, German Embassy, said the Fair was an opportunity for European companies to reach out to new customers.
Mr Stephen Antwi, President of the GGEA, called on governments in the sub-region to harness the potentials of the ECOWAS market to facilitate trade between member states, saying it is one of the surest ways to attract the necessary investment into the region.
He asked the Ghanaian government to expend a lot more diplomatic resources towards eliminating the barriers to trade within the ECOWAS region.
"More often than not these barriers, whether they are the numerous police check points along the highways or over ambitious customs officials, can be controlled with the necessary political will," he said.
Mr Antwi asked the government to take the lead at the ECOWAS level to come out with a list of countries detailing a grading system that measures the positive and negative steps that countries were taking in meeting economic integration benchmarks.
"Indeed, through this measure we will be able to praise countries that are doing well and shame those that are failing in reducing the barriers," he said.
The Fair dubbed: "GEREU 2010 - Where Europe Meets Africa," offers opportunity to European companies to partner with their counterparts in Africa in areas such as energy, infrastructure and housing.
Represented are major European companies, including those already in Ghana and others which are seeking to invest in the Ghanaian and ECOWAS markets as well as indigenous Ghanaian companies.
GEREU will showcase the latest technologies suitable from many European countries, including Germany, Austria, The Netherlands and Italy to West Africa in the areas such as oil and gas, general machinery, construction, telecommunication/Information Communication and Technology, pharmaceuticals, automobiles, manufacturing, printing, transport and logistics.
GGEA promotes businesses between Ghana and Germany and strives to foster industrial and economic development and growth in Ghana.
It also provides a number of advisory, information and networking services to its members and the general public.