The Minister of Trade-designate, Alan Kyerematen has reaffirmed Ghana’s commitment to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), insisting that Ghana would have to impress on Nigeria to also sign the agreement. He noted that the partnership would hugely be disadvantaged if Nigeria, a powerhouse within the sub-region, refuses to sign the EPA. Ghana signed the interim agreement in July, 2016, and Mr. Kyerematen told Parliament’s Appointments Committee on Monday that he would advise Ghana’s president to use “quiet diplomacy” to ensure that Nigeria becomes part of the agreement. “We will encourage our brothers in Nigeria, because we were negotiating as an economic bloc; also to be able to do what is necessary, to enable all of us come together, as a regional bloc to be able to complete the process,” the Trade Minister-designate said. He also noted that “ECOWAS without Nigeria would not be strong enough” to go into the agreement, and would also “destroy” its fundamentals because the agreement was to be negotiated and signed as a regional bloc. “The contract would be frustrated if Nigeria refused to sign, then other members may have to find other trade arrangements with the European Union,” he pointed out. The Economic Partnership Agreement will ensure that businesses and industries in Ghana can export to the EU market quota-free and without paying for any duties on their products. Also, firms in the EU in return can also export goods and services to the Ghanaian market, quota-free, duty-free. Under the agreement, ECOWAS countries will get 100 percent access to the European market, while the EU gets about 75 percent access to countries that have signed the agreement. Civil society and local manufacturers have kicked against the agreement, saying it will collapse local businesses and impoverish the country. But Mr. Kyerematen underscored, “while there are disadvantages and positives about the EPA, we also know that it provides some advantages which we can harvest if we take the EPAs seriously”. He therefore advocated for the enhancement of the capacity of local manufacturers to take advantage of the European market.
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