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21.05.2004 Business & Finance

Ghana wants reduction of EU tariffs

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Accra, May 21, GNA - Ghana is advocating a gradual and phased reduction of custom tariffs on imports from the European Union (EU) to minimise the impact of the potential loss in revenue if the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) currently being negotiated comes into force.

The agreement, which is between the EU and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), seeks the establishment of a free trade area and elimination of import duties on products coming from member countries in the two trading blocs by 2008.

Mr Kwadwo Afram-Asiedu, Deputy Minister of Trade, said on Thursday that although Ghana was negotiating the EPA in common with other member countries of ECOWAS, it was only good that her special interests were balanced against those of other countries.

He said it was prudent for Ghana to reach some compromise on her interests before a final decision was taken on the form of the EPA. Mr Afram-Asiedu was speaking at the closing ceremony of a three-day workshop on "Implications and Challenges of the Economic Partnership Agreement for Agriculture and Agro-based Industrialisation in the Country".

It was organised by the General Agriculture Workers Union in collaboration with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

Mr Afram-Asiedu said public revenue generation from products captured under the Common Agreement would not be so much affected since tariffs on such imports were mostly zero or insignificant.

He said Ghana's producers of agricultural produce were likely to face less competition in the EU markets should the liberalisation affect agricultural products currently protected by the EU's Common Agricultural Policy.

Mr Kwasi Adu-Amankwaah, Secretary-General of the Trades Union Congress, said most developing countries were yet to derive substantial benefits from the world trade system because they did not have a defined interest.

This, he said, often enabled the developed countries to blackmail leaders from developing countries to take outrageous decisions, which in the long-run impacted negatively on the development and life of their countries.

In a resolution, participants at the workshop said the free trade arrangements under the EPA would undermine domestic production particularly agriculture and industry.

They called on the Government to evolve an all-inclusive Master Development Policy Framework to address the needs of agriculture and industry.

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