Ghana and other West African countries have up to October to enjoy non-reciprocal trading arrangement with the European Union (EU), which has extended its free-trade moratorium for West African countries under the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs).
This is because all members (including Ghana), except Nigeria, have signed onto the non-preferential trade treaty, which will offer a quota-free and duty-free market access to the EU market for all goods and services, excluding rice and sugar.
The regional bloc will reciprocate by offering quota-free market access to 80 per cent of goods from the EU, with different tariff levels, up to 35 per cent.
The Minister of Trade and Industry, Ekwow Spio-Garbrah (Dr), disclosed this at the maiden networking meeting of the Ghanaian-German Economic Association (GGEA) in Accra.
The meeting, which brought together members of the GGEA – companies from Germany and the EU or Ghanaian companies with business ties with counterparts in Germany – also saw some members of a German trade mission participating.
Dr Spio-Garbrah said the EPAs were signed last December but Nigeria, which depended mainly on crude oil exports to power its economy, indicated it was not ready to sign.
The EPAs arrangements require that ECOWAS member states sign the agreement as a bloc and Nigeria’s abstention necessitated the extension until October as an interim measure.
The trade minister encouraged exporters not to panic under any circumstance but should concentrate on making quality products with fair prices and that could give them a break in the EU market.
He also urged the exporters, especially exporters of food and horticultural products to follow due advice to ensure that their products were not impounded, held up or quarantined for various sanitary and phytosanitary reasons at the port of entry.
He said the laboratory capacity of the Ghana Standards Authority, as well as the Food and Drugs Authority, was being strengthened to ensure that they could help exporters with support and education to enable them to pass the entry requirements.
The President of GGEA, Mr. Stephen Antwi, was upbeat about the Ghana Germany/EU relations and said it was the aim of the association to work through members to deepen the relationship and trade volumes among the two sides.