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Trade Minister Clarifies Ghana's Position On EPA   
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Mr Haruna Iddrisu, Minister of Trade and Industry (MOTI) on Tuesday says Ghana stand to lose if it fails to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU).

He said the EU as a regional block had taken a decision which meant that if by October 1, Ghana failed to sign it, as a nation we would not have access to the EU market.

Taking his turn at the “Meet the Press” series on Tuesday, he noted that regardless of the decision Ghana takes concerning the EPA, it would come with its own cost whether positively or negatively.

Mr Iddrisu advised civil society organisations who are advising Government against signing the EPA due to its repercussion on the national economy to take a second look at the possible benefits the nation would derived from endorsing it.

He said in the interest of regional integration and to continue to enjoy market access for its exports to EU, Ghana would be guided by the collective position of ECOWAS in conformity with the region’s common goal.

“Ghana will be the only country in West Africa whose exports will be greatly affected if it does not sign the West Africa- EPA… Many of these West African countries already have other forms of negotiations with the EU,” he said.

Mr Iddrisu said this has made it possible for them to access EU market such as Nigeria which exports about 95 per cent of its crude oil to EU countries.

He said the Ministry would also continue with the implementation of the Industrial Sector Support Programme (ISSP) to promote industrial development on sustainable basis.

“To ensure the realisation of this, the Ministry has reviewed the Export Development and Agricultural Investment Fund (EDAIF) Act, to expand its resource envelop for private sector development particularly manufacturing including agro-processing and start-ups”.

He said the Ministry had also reviewed the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) Act, (Act 478) of 1994 and prepared a revised Bill, which has been passed by Parliament into an Act in July 2013.

He noted that the objective of the new Act is to improve the legal and regulatory environment for investment, and also protect indigenous Ghanaian traders in the retail sector.

He said the Ministry is at the final stage of developing a comprehensive Corporate Social Responsibility Policy to encourage industries to improve their impact in the communities where they operate by addressing wider social and environmental challenges.

He said the Ministry in response to a Presidential directive to strengthen local manufacturing production capacities, had initiated a process of supporting five companies in five priority sub-sectors of pharmaceutical, textiles and garments, agro-processing, poultry and wood-processing.

He said applications for funding support from companies in the five sub-sectors had been forwarded to EDAIF for consideration while applications of two companies from the pharmaceutical sector have been approved.

The Minister also observed that an Indian Exim Bank facility of 35 million dollars has been secured to establish a new sugar factory at Komenda.

A firm has won the contract to undertake the civil and engineering works as well as the establishment of irrigation scheme for high yielding sugar cane plantation to feed the factory.

Mr Iddrisu said: “The factory is expected to create employment especially within the catchment area and also help reduce the importation of Ghana’s sugar requirement currently estimated at 375,000 tons per annum.”

MOTI has initiated the process of developing modern industrial zones throughout the country to facilitate the industrialisation process.

He said the industrial zones would ensure the availability of serviced plots with provision of utilities, other industry-essential infrastructure and promote spatial distribution of industries.

The Ministry had acquired a 60- acre plot of land in Tamale and identified suitable lands in the Volta Region, Buipe in the Northern Region, Shama in the Western Region and Wa in the Upper West Region for the projects.

Mr Iddrisu said an integrated salt industry is being established at the Keta Lagoon Basin to produce salt for both local and foreign markets adding that investors had been identified and among them was a local company which had provided a three story building office complex for the project.

He said MOTI, in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources would set up a technical team by June, to develop draft guidelines for the revamping of the bauxite and aluminum industry.
Source: GNA

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