[DEBATE] : Stand firm against EPA, says civil society to government
Riaz K Tayob
riaz.tayob at gmail.com
Mon Sep 15 10:23:32 BST 2008
Stand firm against EPA, says civil society to government
Accra, Dec. 10, Ghanadot/GNA - Civil society organisatons working on
Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) in Ghana on Monday called on
government to stand by its position not to sign the interim partnership
agreements even in the face of European Commission's pressure.
They said this was important to avoid the dangerous implications of the
so-called interim EPA.
The EPAs will replace the current Cotonou Agreement under which the
Africa, Carribean and Pacific Countries (ACP) have enjoyed duty and
quota free access to the EU market.
Under the proposed deal, ACP countries will be required to open up their
markets for about 80 per cent of products from the EU in order to
continue to enjoy the duty and quota free access to the EU market.
"We are encouraged that the government decided that it was not in the
interest of Ghana to sign Interim Agreement proposed by the European
Commission, "Dr Yao Graham, Coordinator of the Third World Network, told
a press conference organised by the civil society organisations under
the umbrella of the Economic Justice Network.
The European Commission and the Ghanaian Government were locked up in
discussions last week in an attempt to get the latter sign on to the
But the discussions were deadlocked because EC included in its proposal
issues on the liberalisation of government procurement, investment rules
and capital flows.
"These issues are not in any way related to trade in goods between the
EU and Ghana (and other West African countries) and rules on them are
not required by the WTO for the purposes of continued duty-free access
to the EU markets", Dr. Graham, said.
According to Dr. Graham, even in the area of trade in goods, the EC
included in the interim agreement demands, which had not been part of
the EPA negotiations.
One such demand was for the government to forever eliminate the use of
export taxes, which governments all over the developing world including
Ghana, use when necessary to discourage the excessive export of locally
produced materials in their raw form, so as to encourage value added
processing and export.
While government's refusal to accept such terms are encouraging, civil
society organisations caution that the EC's pressure over the deal has
not gone away, especially now that the Cote d'Ivoire has signalled
'initial intentions' to sign.
Dr Graham said civil society organisations appreciated the legitimate
fears of mainly horticultural exporters, who had so far added to the
pressure to sign the EPA-lite.
"But we believe that the needs of this group can be met without
endangering all the other vital and wide sectors of domestic producers
and exporters, not to talk of other producers and socio-economic
stakeholders," he said.
The civil society groups therefore called on government to table
immediately the GSP+, which would cover about 97 per cent of the
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