According to him, it will be in the best interest of the sub-region to promote regional integration by agreeing to the EPA.
“It is desirable for the sub-region to continue to work for a common EPA and despite the fact that it has become imperative for Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire to go ahead and sign the interim EPA, we will continue to work to ensure so that we bring the whole sub-region onboard so that it advances the course of our integration,” he stated.
The agreement will allow entry of a percentage of imports from Europe to Africa and vice versa, free of tariffs.
Some imports from Africa to Europe will however attract tariffs upon failure to sign onto the agreement by October 1 this year.
Already, Ghana and Ivory Coast have signed an interim EPA as they wait on ECOWAS to jointly sign onto the agreement.
President Mahama maintains that the EPA will also deepen inter-regional trade among countries in the sub-region.
Some major exporters have impressed on government to sign onto the EPA as they fear they may be forced out of business due to high operational costs.
But civil societies including the Third World Network maintain that a decision to sign onto the EPA will be inimical to Ghana’s economic growth.
The coordinator of the Third World Network, Dr. Yao Graham as a matter of fact wants government to consider the cost benefit nature of the agreement before Ghana signs the EPA.
He argued among other things that the decision to sign onto the EPA will hurt small businesses and cripple Ghana’s industrial growth.
Meanwhile the Trade and Industry Minister, Dr. Ekow Spio- Garbrah has rejected claims that signing an interim Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU) will collapse indigenous businesses in the manufacturing sector.
Speaking to Citi Business News, Dr. Spio-Garbrah rather challenged locally based manufacturers to improve the standards of their products to enable them export to the EU.
“Ghanaian producers will be entering the European markets at a preferential rate. So it is not the exporters that will suffer. The EPA also expects the other counterparts to open their markets over a period of time,” he said.
Already, the Executive Director of the European Business Organization-Ghana, Nico van Staalduinen cast doubt over Ghana’s ability to complete the ratification process by the October 1 deadline.
Speaking at the maiden edition of the Citibusinessnews.com Breakfast Encounters, Nico van Staalduinen explained the legislature has limited time to complete the ratification process as the current session of Parliament ends in July with Parliamentarians expected to resume in the second week in October, which will be after the October 1 deadline.
“I also do not think the first vote has even taken place and besides there are only a few more weeks left to sign because when Parliament rises, it is expected to resume in the second week in October after which the agreement would also have expired already, that is, in the first week in October. I also do not think in an election period, a lot of Parliamentarians will be available to vote on any such decision,” he stated.