Government would protect Ghana’s exports within the framework of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), Dr Ekow Spio-Garbrah, Minister of Trade and Industry, has assured Ghanaian exporters to the European Union (EU).
He said the Trade Ministry is currently seeking cabinet’s input and support on options available to Ghana in the wake of the October 1, 2016 deadline under the current EU regulation granting market access to Ghana.
Dr Spio-Grabrah said this when a delegation of major exporting companies in Ghana paid a courtesy call on him in Accra, to express their concerns over a possible curtailment of market access into the EU by the October 1 deadline.
He said: “In the coming weeks, hopefully in May, government will announce its position on the EPA.
“Let me, however, assure all exporters and their employees that government has much interest in ensuring economic growth, increase in employment as well as an expansion in export trade and industry and will do whatever it takes to protect Ghanaian exports into the EU”, Dr Spio-Grabrah said.
Mr George Kporye, Corporate Affairs and Administration Manager of Golden Exotics Limited, said stakeholders, customers and staffs of the various companies are getting nervous at the prospect of losing their investments and jobs hence the appeal to the Minister to intervene.
Mr Anthony Nyame Baafi, Director of Foreign Relations at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, said with the exception of Nigeria, the Gambia and Mauritania, 13 of the 16 ECOWAS countries have signed the EPA.
“Unfortunately in order to ratify the EPA, all the West Africa countries need to have signed in line with the modalities in the EPA negotiations before its implementation could commence,” he said.
Mr Baafi said there were four policy options opened to Ghana under the current circumstance, which included seeking an extension of the current EU regulation granting market access to Ghana and other Interim EPA (IEPA) eligible countries from October 1, 2016 to October 1, 2017.
He said the second option would be for Ghana to request for the IEPA to include the favourable terms in the ECOWAS EPA since the latter has more favourable terms for both parties and promotes regional integration which Ghana has been an avid advocate in the region.
Mr Baafi said the third option is for Ghana to expedite action to sign and ratify the IEPA which was initialed in December 2007 to secure and also guarantee uninterrupted market access for its exporters.
The last option would be for Ghana to draw up compensation mechanisms for companies exporting to the EU, especially for non-traditional exports before the end of August 2016.
Some of the companies present at the meeting were Bomark Farms Ltd., Barry Callebaut, Golden Exotics, Volta River Estates Ltd., Pineapple Exporters Association, Ghafco Company Ltd and the Federation of Ghanaian Exporters.