Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Ghana, EU expand market access

Image result for EU interim Economic Partnership Agreement

Adnan Adams Mohammed

The European Union (EU) and the government of Ghana have committed to mutually beneficial and robust economic and trade ties.

EU said, it is ready to receive Ghana’s value added products.

This comes after Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire have signed an interim Economic Partnership Agreement..

The EU Ambassador to Ghana, Mr William Hanna has noted that, Ghana “is doing well already, competing well on our market and there are lots of other possibilities in the future, especially with regard to value addition.”

The EU remains Ghana’s biggest trade partner with over €2.3billion of exports to that market in 2016 and €4.6billion in foreign direct investment. “This is a partnership between equals. Ghana is the EU’s biggest trading partner, investor and development partner and we want to take trade to the next level,” the envoy said.

According to the ambassador, Ghana already has 100 per cent access to the EU market, where agricultural and industrial produce go through the market duty-free. He stated further that “if you add value to your exports they also are  100 per cent duty-free; if you take cocoa for example, processed cocoa, chocolates get to our market duty-free.”

“There are opportunities there in our market and we want to sit down and look at the rules of origin; it is important this is taking place one year after the ratification of the agreement,” the EU envoy said. The EU, Mr Hanna said wanted to look at the wider ECOWAS region through Ghana and “we see in the future Europe working with the whole of West Africa.”

Ghanaian companies exporting products to the EU market should enjoy reduced prices on their goods should the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) be fully passed by Parliament.

The agreement, which was signed by Ghana and the EU in August and December 2016 respectively, covers goods and development cooperation.

The agreement when fully passed will also offer EU duty-free market access into Ghana for 80 percent of tariff lines.

This will also be gradually liberalized over a period of 15 years.

Mr William Hanna believes that, the agreement when fully passed, will also warrant massive investment from across the globe into Ghana.

“The EU is Ghana’s biggest trading partner and investor and indeed development partner, but as we know, the government is going beyond aid. As the aid reduces, the trade and investment part must increase and Ghana already has a hundred percent access to the European market for both agricultural and industrial produce,” he said.

He added that the move will make Ghana very competitive on the European market.

“If you add value to the export, they become a hundred percent duty-free. Take cocoa, for example, if you process it here in Ghana, it still gets into our market one hundred percent duty-free. So there is an opportunity there in our market. We see Ghana doing well already; competing in our markets and lots of other possibilities in the future to add value in Ghana and also to access our market,” he asserted.

Also, the EU Ambassador, indicated that EU is ready to support government’s ‘Ghana beyond Aid’ agenda.

“As we know that this government is taking Ghana beyond aid, we share in the joy that the aid part will be reducing while the trade and investment part becomes more,” Mr Hanna stated. Referring to the recent visits by Presidents and Prime Ministers from European countries to Ghana last year, Mr Hanna said the EU was highly interested in bringing more investors into Ghana so “we can work well together.”

Mr. Hanna has assured of the EU’s commitment to bringing more investments to Ghana.

“We are also interested in bringing investments into Ghana. We are all looking at that as an opportunity and I think we can work well together,” he maintained.

The European Union in October 2015 placed a temporary ban on export of vegetables from Ghana to their region as they claimed it did not meet their quality standards.

In November last year, it lifted the ban it placed on the export of five Ghanaian vegetables to the EU Market.

The five vegetables are chilli pepper, bottle gourds, luffa gourds, bitter gourds, and eggplants.

Ghanaian farmers are now able to export all plant commodities to the EU market completely duty-free and quota-free.

The European Union earlier awarded a 7.2 million Euro grant to two banana-producing companies, Golden Exotic limited and Volta River Estates limited to aid in the Banana Accompanying Measures (BAM) for Ghana project.

The initiative also followed records of dwindling figures in banana exports from Ghana to the European markets.

The EU boss made the remarks at the launch of the first joint committee of the Ghana –EU interim Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) implementation in Accra last week.

The Committee, consisting both of Ghana and EU teams (10 members on each side) is one of the first binding requirements of the interim agreement signed in 2016.

It will among other functions monitor the EPA to ensure that the economic, social and trade benefits are realised.

Deputy Minister of Trade, Robert Ahomka-Lindsey who inaugurated the Committee charged the members to “drill down to the detail in their deliberations and ensure that both parties benefit from the agreement.” Representatives on the committee were drawn from the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MOTI), the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate of MOFA.