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Gov’t adopts measures to boost EPA gains

Nov. 2, 2016, 6 a.m.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoTI) has drafted a strategy document that will position agricultural sector actors and agro-processing industries to make the most out of the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (iEPA).

Named ‘The EPA Accompanying Measures Strategy,’ it seeks to cushion the country’s export-led economy agenda by boosting the capacity of actors in the agric value chain to adequately tap the opportunities that are being offered under the 15-year Ghana-EU bilateral trade regime.

Director of Foreign Relations at MoTI, Anthony K. Nyame-Baafi, disclosed this at a two-week training programme on international agricultural trade policy for various stakeholders held at Ashanti Mampong in the Ashanti Region.

“Government seeks to ensure exporters are adequately prepared to access the EU market by assisting them to satisfy sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards (SPS) and other trade related requirements.

“By this strategy document we will identify producers who may face increased import competition and make sure that they are proactively supported to sufficiently mitigate the threats of such competition,” he indicated.

The strategy document, Mr. Nyame-Baafi said, has been drafted in sync with the ministry’s programmes such as the Industrial Sector Support Programme (ISSP) and National Export Strategy (NES).

Government has signed a “stepping stone” trade agreement that opens up 80 percent of the country’s market to goods and services from EU member countries in exchange for 100 percent duty-free quota-free access to the EU markets, a move that government has said will save the economy about US$600 million per annum.

The country’s biggest exports to the EU market are petroleum oils and cocoa beans for which it does not require the EPA to export.

The bilateral agreement will, however, be helpful to non-traditional and value-added exports, which would have attracted high EU tariffs without the EPA, under the Generalised System of Preferences.

Businesses in the processed cocoa-butter, paste, powder; tuna, edible fruits and nuts as well as fruit juice and dried fruits industries piled pressure on government to sign the deal to save them from collapse.

The EPA Accompanying Measures Strategy is pivoted on three pillars, namely: ownership; management of the EPA, improving production and competitiveness of local exports; and engagement of reforms.

The draft document comes after several consultative workshops across the country to fully incorporate the concerns of the private sector and civil society organisations.

Mr. Nyame-Baafi indicated that the strategy will be cushioned by the Ghana Exim Bank and the US$6.5 billion development cooperation assistance from the European Union which is meant to build the capacity of countries that have signed onto the EPA to mitigate their supply side constraints.

He also indicated that the interim EPA offers the opportunity to promote new exports, especially the intensive production and export of raw or value-added horticultural products, which the country has huge potential in.

Source: B&FT