1411-12 Working Group news on Trade – December

  1.        African trade ministers meet on market expansion


African Trade Ministers have kicked off a meeting to prepare the ground for the launch of negotiations on a Continental Free Trade Area. The meeting opened against the background of the recent signing of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA). African leaders agreed to launch discussions on a CFTA by 2015 during an AU Summit dedicated to discussions on how to bolster trade among the various countries. The Trade Ministers of the AU Trade Ministers expressed fears that current talks by rich and developed countries to form mega-trading blocs could isolate African economies further.


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       2.       The ECOWAS EPA Ratification Process


On Friday 12 December the EU Council has given green light for the signature of the West-African EPA. The signature itself may take place in January if by that time West-Africa has also taken the decision to sign. The Decision taken by the EU Council on 12 December to provisionally implement the EPA does not apply the Article 54(2). This means that in EU speak the EPA is an agreement of mixt competence between the EU and its member states and therefore it will have to be ratified by all 28 EU member states. This is good news, because the longer  the ratification takes the better, because this will also delay the application on the West African side and it will delay the triggering of the rendez-vous clause, i.e. the possible beginning of negotiations on services, investment, government procurement, IPR, competition etc.


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       3.      EPA will not benefit Ghana

Ghana risks to lose its manufacturing sector if it goes ahead to sign the EPA with the European Union. The agreement as it stands now would not benefit the country. It will not be economically prudent for Ghana to ratify the EPA given the current economic hardships in the country where prices of commodities are on the increase, fuel prices keep escalating drastically, unstable power supply, bad state of roads and labour unrest among others. The economic conditions directly affects the production capacity of Ghana in the manufacturing industry, hence, cannot take full advantage of the EU market.


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