Pineapple, Banana Producers Support EPA

The President of the newly-created African Pineapples and Bananas Association (APIBANA), Mr. George Kporye, has urged government to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU). Talking to journalists after a press conference to announce the formation of APIBANA, Mr. Kporye said the agreement guarantees a quota-free entry into the European market and he is thankful that the interim EPA that Ghana initialled on December 13, 2007, allows pineapple and banana producers access into the European market tariff-free. The EU has had preferential trade and aid agreements with the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries since 1975. This discrimination towards some ACP countries was incompatible with provisions of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), most importantly article 37.7 which seeks to establish a free trade area that will progressively and substantially abolish all trade restrictions between both parties. Mr. Kporye said African producers face unequal competition from Latin American producers, through a series of agreements such as the Geneva agreement and the EU-Central American agreement -- both of which have changed the equilibrium of supply and demand in the EU market. Consequently, he urged government to sign the full EPA with the EU, adding: “If Ghana does not sign the EPA, pineapple and banana producers will be subjected to tariffs, and we cannot afford that in the face of stiff competition.” Last year, Ghana exported 33,000 metric tonnes of pineapple to the EU while banana exports last year amounted to 62,000 metric tonnes, Mr. Kporye told B&FT in an interview. Mr. Kporye additionally manages Golden Exotics Limited, which accounts for 90 percent of the bananas exported from Ghana. He said that EU imports dramatically increased over the last decade from 300,000 tonnes in 1999 to more than 900,000 tonnes in 2010 -- but it was really from 2005-2006 that the EU import volume became important with 700,000 tonnes. Mr. Kporye noted that African countries were not able to benefit from such growth, especially Ivory Coast, as their market shares went down from 60% (200,000 tonnes) in 1999 to 9% (85,000 tonnes) in 2010. Consequently, the market dynamics prompted some banana and pineapple producers from Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Ghana to decide to create the African Pineapples and Bananas Association to enhance their position on the European market. They altogether account for 65 percent (360,000 tonnes) of African banana exports to the European Union and around 70% (65,000 tonnes) of African pineapple exports in 2010. APIBANA is based in Accra, and among its objectives are to represent, advocate, and defend the interests of its members in the producing countries in front of regional institutions like ECOWAS, UEMOA etc , and to promote its members’ products in all markets, especially the EU, and develop in markets of Africa among others.