Accra, Feb. 14, GNA - Mr Alan Kyerematen, Minister of Trade and Industry, on Monday called on countries to develop their own trade policies that would give them a better focus when negotiating on the international market.
He said it was important for countries to clearly state their various trade policies to ensure better negotiations at the international level.
Mr Kyerematen, who was addressing a Regional workshop on multilateral trade negotiation on agriculture, urged participants to ensure that unfair and inequitable trade negotiations on agriculture committed in the past were not repeated.
Twenty-three West and Central African countries are attending the four-day workshop that would assist the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) members to be better informed on the "Post-Modalities Framework" of the World Trade Organization (WTO) framework agreement on agriculture.
The need for further clarification of the WTO negotiations on agriculture was a result of the failure of FAO members to agree on the modalities that would set the parameters for the outcome of the negotiations on agriculture.
These include the extent to agree on modalities reflecting important differences among members over the implementation period. Failure to agree on the modalities reflected important differences among members in several key issues relating largely to the level of ambition for reducing tariffs and subsidies.
Mr Kyerematen cited incidences where domestic support had been eliminated instead of being reduced and urged participants to consider critical gaps such as the erosion of preferential margins, which resulted from tariff reductions by preference-giving members, market access and export competition.
"In the area of export competition, despite the commitment to eliminate export subsidies, the end-date remains to be fixed," he said. The Minister also mentioned the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), which was to be concluded between the ACP sub-regional groupings and the European Union.
Mr Kyerematen said the EPA was being negotiated to replace the current Lome Trading Arrangement, reproduced in the Cotonou Partnership Agreement (CPA), because it was incompatible with GATT and WTO provisions.
He noted that though the CPA had been implemented over the years through a waiver, it had become very difficult to obtain the waiver. Mr Kyerematen said Ghana would soon launch a new trade policy that would give an entire new phase to trade and industry in the county.
Mr Kwaku Owusu-Baah, Chief Director, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, advocated for intensive trans-boarder trade negotiations to ensure total reduction of market prices and promote smooth trading. He stated that it was only through inter-regional trade negotiations that member countries could enjoy some benefits such as EU duty-free access to their markets.
Mr Oloche Anebi Edache, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa, said while a total of 842 million people globally continued to suffer from hunger due to the continuing food deficit, it was very important for policy makers to speed up efforts to eliminate the scourge of hunger and under-nourishment by agreeing to reduce the number to half by the end of 2015.
"Out of this number 204 million live in sub-Saharan African countries...."
He said the figure was a clear reminder of the sufferings of the silent millions of West and Central African people striving to make a living.
Mr Edache attributed the cause of problem to war and conflicts most West and Central African countries, which were currently experiencing as high as about 10 million undernourished people since the 1996 World Food summit.
He called for full participation by both members in WTO meetings so that they would be able to understand evolving issues of the WTO Agreements.
Mr Edache noted that with sharpened negotiation skills they would be able to achieve better results, which would go a long way in assisting African countries to take full advantage of the opportunities available in the Doha Round to arrest and reverse the trend towards their marginalisation in agricultural trade.