Mr Haruna Iddrisu, Minister of Trade and Industry, on Wednesday assured stakeholders that government had taken note of the different anxieties regarding the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and would ensure the right is done.
“In order not to exacerbate the economic situation in the country, I assure you that government will ensure that the right thing is done before the deadline of 1st October 2014,” he said in speech read for him at the 75th National Exporters Forum and the launch of 2013 Non-Traditional Export performance in Accra.
In line with this, Mr Iddrisu said the Ministry was undertaking the necessary assessment of the consequences the country might suffer by not signing the Agreement as well as the consequences of signing the agreement.
“In as much as we consider concerns of Civil Society Organisations as legitimate, my Ministry is undertaking the necessary assessment of the consequences the country may suffer by not signing the agreement as well as the consequences of signing the Agreement,” he said
He said while the signing of the EPA would make Ghana continue to enjoy duty-free and quota-free access for non-traditional exports, the country would, however, be guided by the collective position of ECOWAS in conformity with the region’s common goal.
The EPAs are reciprocal trade arrangement that the EU is seeking to sign with the countries in the West African sub-region.
To sustain exports, Mr Iddrisu said government was taking the concrete steps to diversify exports markets and was working hard to establish other trade offices outside the European for exporters.
He said government would be opening new trade offices in Japan, China, Turkey and South Africa to deepen bilateral relations.
“Besides, government is also strengthening our quality infrastructure especially the laboratories at the Food and Drugs Authority to ensure that our exports meet the requirements of the emerging markets.”
Mr Haruna said government is in the process of setting up an SME fund to finance and reduce cost of borrowing by small medium enterprises as a demonstration of commitment to the development of the private sector.
He said a pilot scheme would soon be rolled out to mobilise and deploy about GHC50 million from the Export Development Agriculture and Investment Fund and other sources.
Mr Gideon Quarcoo, Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Export Promotion Authority urged President John Dramani Mahama and counterpart President’s in the ECOWAS sub-region to consider signing the Economic Partnership Agreement to ensure sustained exports to the European Union.
Ghana recorded US$2.436 billion in 2013 in non-traditional export earnings, an increase of 3.05 per cent over the 2012 earnings of US$2.364 billion.
Mr Quarcoo said the sector continued to be driven by value added products such as cocoa and timber products.
However, he said, the full potential of these value-added products had not been realized yet and efforts must be made to achieve higher levels of value-addition through enhanced investments in agro-processing and other productive sectors.
The National Exporters’ Forum is a platform for interaction between exporters and facilitating institutions and has helped identify and address constraints in the non-tradition export sector.
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