|Government Has Not Signed IEPA Agreement - Trade Minister|
|Thursday, 28 June 2012 16:10|
The Minister for Trade and Industry, Madam Hannah Tetteh, has stated emphatically that Government has not yet signed the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (IEPA) with the European Union as has been purported in sections of the media.
According to her, Ghana has only initialised for the agreement which is different from signing.
The Minister disclosed that, the initialising of the agreement had enabled the country to produce and export a large volume of banana to the EU market as all quotas for exporting the product had been removed.
The Minister made these assertions when she paid a working visit to the 1200-hector banana plantation of Golden Exotics Limited, a Free Zone Company in Asutuare in the Eastern Region. The purpose for the visit by the Minister, who was accompanied by the European Union Ambassador and the leader of the EU delegation to Ghana, H. E. Claude Maerten, was centred on the Banana Accompanying Measures (BAM).
BAM is a partnership programme between the government and banana producers and exporters where government is expected to support banana exporters in the country to enable them compete with the other banana producing countries especially those from Latin Americas.
The 1200-hector plantation which now exports 50 000 tons of banana to the EU market, is a subsidiary of Compagnie Fruitere Group, and incorporated as a free zones company in 2003. They produce and export banana and pineapple to the EU market.
She indicated that initialising the IEPA had enabled a substantial space for businesses to export large volume of bananas for the EU market. “With the IEPA which spans 20 years, Ghana is expected to waive taxes on 80% of imports from the European market and also the country would be able to export large volumes of goods and products to the EU market without any quota”, she explained.
Madam Tetteh disclosed that the IEPA was a regional agreement between ECOWAS and the EU but emphasised that in signing the agreement, Ghana’s interest would be key.
The Minister in a statement said “a venture like the Golden Exotic Limited is very key and significant as it creates employment and improve on the social facilities in the communities”.
She emphasised that government was much concerned competing with other countries in key sectors of the economy hence the giving of grant assistance to companies of such nature.
The Minister noted, “government is taking measures to rent out affordable houses to workers of large plantations across the country as most often the workers live far away from the farms”.
She said negotiations were currently on-going with traditional leaders and custodians of the lands in communities where such farms were located and expressed optimism that all things would go on positively.
Addressing a section of workers, Madam Tetteh entreated them to give off their best as that would encourage other investors to enter the country thereby creating more employment.
“Working diligently means improvement in their conditions as the profit generated by the company would enable most of their needs to be met”, she said.
The EU Ambassador, H. E. Claude Maerten indicated that though Ghana faced a lot of challenges in the export sector, opportunities and potentials still abound.
The Ambassador announced that demand for fruits, for that matter banana in Europe was high thus the need to increase the production of the crop which would also go a long way to provide employment to many people.
“Golden Exotics Limited is however, projecting to increase its production and exports of banana to the EU markets to 55 000 tons this year”, he added.
The Chief and some elders of Asutuare who were present to meet the Minister said they were eager to help the government for the BAM programme to succeed.
Source: ISD (Redeemer Quartey & Solace Amankwa)