A West African-wide Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union may be implemented soon, Ghana’s Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Mahama Ayariga said Wednesday in Ghana’s capital, Accra.
EPAs are a reciprocal trade arrangement under which the EU seeks to replace the duty and quota free access of the about 79 African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries to its market.
Opening the third German-European Business in Ghana Trade Fair (GEREU) organized by the Ghanaian-German Economic Association [GGEA] in Accra, Mr. Ayariga said the regional negotiation was ongoing and might be implemented soon after issues bothering on market access, rules of origin and the EPA Development Plan, which seek to mobilise resources to improve competitiveness in the sub-region were 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.
Ayariga said Ghana initialed 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 the West African-wide EPA agreement was sealed to remove uncertainty between EU and countries in the sub-region.
Maerten said the interim agreement could be under threat under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules and it was essential the agreement were finished on time to stem uncertainty over export contracts and eliminate roadblocks to trade.
Mr Stephen Antwi, the President of the GGEA called on the governments in the sub-region to harness the potentials of the ECOWAS market to facilitate trade between member states, saying it was one of the surest ways to attract the necessary investment into the region.
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, among others.