CSOs urge Ghana’s Trade Minister to push for solidarity fund in EPA process

Ms. Hannah Tetteh - Minister of Trade and Industry

Civil Society organisations concerned about the on-going processes in the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations between ECOWAS and the European Union in a statement have urged the Trade and Industry Minister, Ms Hannah Tetteh to adopt the recommendation from the experts in the EPA process to set up the Solidarity Fund to help Ghana and the other countries concerned to solve the export challenge and also save the integration efforts over the years.

The option is a regional mechanism in the form of a solidarity Fund to compensate Ghana, La Cote d’Ivoire and Cape Verde on export losses in case a consensus is not reached on the EPA between ECOWAS and the EU before the deadline.

The decision to set up the fund was taken at the recent ECOWAS Ministerial Monitoring Committee (MMC) meeting on the EPA negotiations in Accra, in November 2011, where Hon. Hannah Tetteh was the host. This decision was arrived at after careful analysis of the effects of member countries deciding to sign individual agreements with the EU.

According to the statement, the issue of the exporters is genuine and a real concern. But that has to be put in the broader interest of other producers and the country as a whole. Apart from those who export to the EU market, all other local producers whose market is domestic and the ECOWAS region, will have a very serious challenge with the influx of EU goods should the EPA be signed. Also, its effects on Ghana’s industrialization and the ECOWAS integration agenda will be disastrous.

The CSO’s also called on the Minister to provide her leadership, as usual, that will enable her and other colleague ministers, as well as relevant stakeholders, in the Region to operationalize the Solidarity Fund now to avoid undue pressure.

“Civil society organizations will be glad to work with the Ministry on resolving the export challenge. As for Ghana signing the interim agreement with the European Union is not the way to go because of its damaging effects on the entire life of the Nation and the ECOWAS Sub region,” they said.

The Interim EPA will be the fall-back option for Ghana should ECOWAS fail to reach a consensus with the EU in the EPA negotiations before the  January 1, 2014 deadline. Specifically Ghana will fall out of the regional process, in case of delay, to sign the EPA with the EU.

Pascal Kelvin Kudiabor

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