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STATEMENT: AU Commissioner Trade & industry (on EPAs)

Last week played host to the Eighth Conference of Ministers of AU Trade (CoMaT) in Addis. Below is an excerpt of Mrs.Fatima Haram Acyl, the Commissioner's statement that explicitly states how the EPAs will DISRUPT Africa's integration efforts:

"Ladies  and  Gentlemen,  There  is  also  the  issue  of  the  EPA  negotiations  where  a  number  of  contentious  issues  have  emerged  over  the  years  of  the  negotiations.  These  contentious  issues  relate  to  the  policy  space  and  flexibility  that  African  countries  need  to  enact  the  right  policy  mix  that  will  lead  to  the  economic  growth  and  development  of  our  countries.    In  addition,  the  current  EPA  negotiations  and  model  are  disruptive  of  Africa’s  regional  integration  efforts.  In  all  the  sub-‐regions  negotiating  EPAs,  the  majority  of  the  countries  are  LDCs  who  already  have  non  reciprocal  duty  free  and  quota  free  access  to  the  EU  markets  under  the  Everything  But  Arms  (EBA)  arrangement.  However  the  few  countries  that  are  not  LDCs  in  these  regions  would  lose  their  current  market  access  preferences  to  the  EU  market  if  they  do  not  sign  and  ratify  the  EPAs.  If  these  countries  go  ahead  to  independently  commit  to  the  EPAs  without  their  LDC  partners  in  the  region,  it  will  compromise  the  regional  arrangements  towards  having  a  common  external  tariff  and  customs  union  as  defined  in  the  Abuja  Treaty.  The  EPA  negotiating  configurations  are  not  in  line  with  the  membership  of  the  Regional  Economic  Communities  which  is  why  we  see    potential  fragmentation  of  the  Regional  Economic  Communities  and  thereby  posing    a  real  threat  to  the  continental  economic  integration  agenda"

Rejoinder: Trade Ministry Allays Fears on EPAs

 The Economic Justice Network (EJN) of Ghana welcomes the current government position on the European Union-Ghana Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (IEPA) issued by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MOTI) on 31st May, 2012, and carried by Joy FM, to the effect that Cabinet was not contemplating signing the IEPA, a very inimical trade pact. This goes some way to address some of our concerns that the public utterances of the Minister of Trade and Industry were part of pressure on a reluctant Cabinet to sign the IEPAs.

We also welcome the dialogue in the form of the sensitization programme that the Ministry intends to carry out as indicated in the interview with Joy FM.  Such programmes will allow all stakeholders to put their concerns forward. This will help address the tendency over the past couple of months of ministerial public pronouncements and utterances articulating only those views favourable to the signature of the IEPAs.   As several of her recent public statements attest, it is no secret that the Minister of Trade and Industry has become increasingly vocal about the benefits of the IEPAs to Ghana, contrary to overwhelming evidence and facts about the damage and hugely disproportionate costs to the Ghanaian economy.

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