Stakeholders at a public forum on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) have called for urgent steps to revise aspects of the agreement before it is signed.
In a unanimous stance, speaker after speaker noted that the EPA was inevitable, but expressed reservations about the current form and structure of the agreement, saying its signing would not only spell doom for the Ghanaian export sector but also collapse local industries.
Ghana has up to October this year to initial the agreement, but concerned interests at the forum maintained that the agreement presented two threats, that of signing it in its current form with the attendant challenges that would adversely affect local industries and the other option of not signing which would also pose serious setbacks to the strides of the export sector.
The forum brought together a total of 17 exporting entities, who urged the government to make the necessary amendments before signing the agreement.
The forum was organised by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and was meant to provide an opportunity for all stakeholders to contribute their views which will be captured to inform the finalisation of the agreement.
However, stakeholders took the ministry to task for not providing any document that will form the basis for the discussions.
For Dr Charles Ackah, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), Ghana was moving into unknown and uncertain waters because there was no documented basis for qualitatively analysing the threats and opportunities that the agreement held for the country.
According to him, instead of Ghana resorting to evidence-based policy making, ?we are only expressing opinions and emotions?.
For him, the EPA, depending on how it was managed, could make Ghana a winner or a loser, adding that ?there are possible gains, as well as risks and losses?.
The challenges, he said, were not from the side of the European Union, but from the side of Ghana, asking whether the free potential market that should arise from the agreement could be effectively utilised by the country.
He also wondered whether Ghana had the capacity to export in the desired quantum since after several years of access to EU markets, not much had been achieved by local businesses.