George Kporye, APIBANA interacting with Claude Maerten and other members at the conference.

Claude Maerten, an Ambassador of the European Union (EU) has called on the government of Ghana to expedite action on the signing of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) to enhance trade.

Ghana signed an interim agreement with the EU after it failed to signed the full EPA contract.

The EU also implemented the total duty free contract.

An Ambassador of the EU said “we expect Ghana to sign and implement its part of the agreement in line with the World trade rules to enhance trade between us.”

Speaking shortly after addressing members of the African Pineapples and Banana Association in Accra on Friday, he noted that it was important for the two to fully implement the legal framework that would guide trade between Ghana and the EU.

“Ghana has not signed the EPA agreement and we are still talking with the authorities but it is important for Ghana to sign the agreement,” said Mr Maerten.

He noted that the Ghanaian authorities have explained that they want to hold consultations with stakeholders who would be affected by the agreement.

“The impact is a positive one but I agree it is normal to look at the details.”

The EU Ambassador noted that Ghana must sign and implement it fully before January 2014 “so that we can maintain duty free and quota free trade.”

He revealed that Ghana would have to consider options “but these are not as good as the EPA.”

The EPA was initiated by the EU which was expected to sign the agreement at the regional level but after the negotiations to get African countries to sign as a regional bloc, countries started signing an interim agreement which was popularly referred to as ‘EPA light.’

Ghana was expected to sign the full EPA in 2007 but agreed to the EPA light in 2008.

George Kporye, President of the African Pineapple and Bananas Association (APIBANA), in an interview, insisted that “there is no way we can decide to sit and watch such significant markets which contribute to our economic growth to die.”

Without the EPA, he said, Ghanaian exporters would be mandated to pay tariffs which we can not pay, noting, “In fact we are in existence currently because of the interim agreement without signing the agreement we are endangering business. We may look at expanding the market and shutting it.”

Opponents of the EPA claim it would lead to the influx of inferior goods on the Ghanaian market.

By Emelia Ennin Abbey

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