Ghana has finally signed the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union.
Joy Business is learning that the pact was signed last Wednesday in Brussels, Belgium between Ghana’s Ambassador to Belgium and the European Union (EU).
Joy Business understands that Cabinet and Parliament are expected to endorse the agreement, this week, to give it the necessary legal backing.
The agreement will ensure that businesses and industries in Ghana can export to the EU market quota-free and without paying for any duties on their products.
Firms in the EU in return can also export goods and services to the Ghanaian market, quota-free, duty-free.
Some industry watchers see the agreement as an extension of the interim Economic Partnership Agreement that was initiated by the President J.A. Kuffour in 2007.
This is to ensure that Ghana’s exports to the EU market, one of the countries, biggest trading partners, are not disrupted, whiles it waits for the West African Economic Partnership Agreement to be fully implemented by all the 16 member country.
Currently, only 13 countries including Ghana that agreed in July 2014 to the pact have signed, leaving Nigeria, Gambia and Mauritania yet to join.
Ghana had until October 1 to sign the agreement or risked been asked to pay levies and taxes on their exports to the EU market.
However, it is not everyone that sees this agreement as good for the economy.
Some civil society groups have maintained it will lead to led to job losses because the Ghanaian market is not that strong to compete on an equal footing with goods from EU.
But some businesses in Ghana like Golden Exotics, one of the leading exporters of banana to the EU insists that the pact has prevented the potential job losses that could have hit the country, as a result of delays in signing the agreement.
Corporate Affairs Director of the company, George Kporye tells Joy Business the agreement would lead to expansion and more investments into the country.
The European Union has promised to set up a €5 billion fund to assist countries that sign the pact, to help with any expected shocks to their economies.
The EPA is also seen as a preferential trade agreement between the EU and the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States, which sought to face out the trade chapters of the Cotonou Agreement that granted non-reciprocal access to EU market.
Analysts have described it as not compatible with the General Agreement on Tariff and Article XXIV under the WTO rules.