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EPAs should not undermine sub-regional integration — Dr Antwi-Danso

BY: Charles Benoni Okine
Director of Academic Affairs at the Ghana Armed Forces and Staff College, Dr Vladimir Antwi-Danso

The Director of Academic Affairs at the Ghana Armed Forces and Staff College, Dr Vladimir Antwi-Danso, has said signing of the European Partnership Agreement (EPAs) should not undermine the integration of the West Africa sub-region.

He, therefore, asked the government to review the agreement to ensure that the integration process is kept intact.

“By the nature of the terms under the agreement, there may be the likelihood that we might lose that integration drive: However, I say strongly that we must ensure that we do not kill that regional integration because it is very important for us as a people”, he stated passionately.

Dr Antwi-Danso gave the advice at the Graphic Business/Stanbic Bank Business Breakfast Meeting held in Accra today. The meeting was on the theme “The Economic Partnership Agreements and its implications for Businesses in Ghana”.

The platform which attracted players in the import and export business, manufacturers, CSO representatives, members of the diplomatic corps, among others, was meant to help key stakeholders to deliberate on the agreement and suggest more pragmatic ways to guide the government as it negotiates to ratify the interim EPAs by October 1.

Dr Antwi-Danso supported the need for the EPAs but immediately cautioned against any attempt to enter into an agreement that would not be to the benefit of Ghana and countries in the sub-region.

“After the Lome Convention, I knew there will be another in a different form and it is, therefore, not surprising that this EPA came up; it would have come in a different form but it’s all geared towards the same objective”, he said.

Lome Convention

The Lomé Convention is a trade and aid agreement between the European Economic Community (EEC) and 71 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, first signed in February 1975 in Lomé, Togo.

The first Lomé Convention (Lomé I), which came into force in April 1976, was designed to provide a new framework of cooperation between the then European Economic Community (EEC) and developing ACP countries, especially former British, Dutch, Belgian and French colonies. It had two main aspects. It provided for most ACP agricultural and mineral exports to enter the EEC free of duty. Preferential access based on a quota system was agreed for products such as sugar and beef, in competition with EEC agriculture. Secondly, the EEC committed ECU 3 billion to aid and investment in the ACP countries.

The 3Ds

Dr Antwi-Danso said the EPAs must be based on what were propounded as the three Ds which were differentiation, development and discrimination.

According to him, these, which had to do with ensuring that what was done elsewhere was not brought in for those here in the sub-region to adopt. He said it should also take into consideration the development agenda of the country and players within ECOWAS; and it must also be discriminatory, that is, it should not be used to undermine the integration of the sub-region.

He expressed the hope that the various arguments and concerns raised by stakeholders would be critically considered to ensure that after the signing, there would be no agitations and disaffections.

Fund

The President of the Private Enterprises Foundation (PEF), Nana Osei Bonsu, called for a fund to be set up to receive all monies meant to support the adoption of the EPAs.

According to him, such funds would be used to address the myriad of challenges faced by local companies in the country. These include the lack of sustainable power supply, high taxes, poor infrastructure and unstable macroeconomic environment.