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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.

Nonetheless, the sensitization programme must not be an excuse to avoid urgent action on important decisions such as the Solidarity Fund which was adopted at the last ECOWAS meeting on the EPAs in November 2011 in Accra. ECOWAS Trade Ministers urged Ghana to abandon her bilateral IEPA in favour of a more committed strengthened and unified Regional solution. A regional mechanism in the form of the Solidarity Fund was adopted to solve the export challenge that Ghana might face.The wisdom of such a mechanism is to prevent the divide-and-rule tactics of the EU aimed ostensibly at the destruction of ECOWAS cohesion on the EPAs. Thus, if the sensitization programme that the Ministry intends to carry out is on how to operationalize the fund it will be welcome news.

However, if the sensitization programme is about how to build support for the finalisation of the Ghana IEPA, against overwhelming evidence about the disastrous nature of the IEPA, then the Ministry of Trade and Industry will be weakening the resolve of ECOWAS on the EPA negotiations and setting the region miles backwards.    

Finally, within the context of inclusiveness and transparency, we deplore the fact that rather than respond to the concerns expressed by the whole of the EJN which are based on the records of the Minister’s pronouncements in Ghana and elsewhere, the Ministry chose to single out one organization (Third World Network-Africa) for mischaracterization. This is reminiscent of the divide and rule tactics the EU is famous for in the EPA negotiations and which we hope will not be adopted by the Ministry.   

Issued by the ECONOMIC JUSTICE NETWORK (EJN) OF GHANA

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