President John Dramani Mahama has described as unfortunate, the deadlines set for the signing of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA), explaining that it will adversely impact the economies and trade systems of other nations.
According to him, the EPAs in their present form appear to undermine rather than promote regional economic integration.
In an address at the just ended 7th ACP Summit of Heads of State and Governments in Malabo, Equitorial Guinea, President Mahama said the insistence on outright liberalisation and discontinuation of customs revenue collection under the EPA also undermines a major source of revenue, which is critical to the development of many African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.
Mr. Mahama, who is the immediate past President of the ACP, told his colleague Heads of State and that despite the long and difficult decade of negotiations, there was still a long way to reaching an agreement.
He noted that even the Caribbean region that had successfully reached a deal with the EU was still struggling with how to go about implementing its own EPA.
The summit was on the theme: “The Future of the ACP Group in a Changing World: Challenges and Opportunities.”
It provided the leaders the opportunity to discuss the implications of the global economic crisis on member states, ACP cooperation with the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China), intra-ACP cooperation and ACP-EU trade relations.
Mr. Mahama used the opportunity to call for greater cooperation and consensus building among member states.
"Sooner or later, we will have to reach a trade agreement with Europe. This agreement should be reached in harmony, in fairness, in the spirit of mutual agreement and partnership," he noted.
President Mahama also urged ACP member states to strengthen their pursuit for economic reforms and deepening regional integration.
He called for consensus building in mapping out innovative strategies and programmes to proffer solutions to some of the critical development challenges confronting the ACP member states.
He said it was time for developing countries to make a bold decision by taking the future of their people into their own hands.
"We need to leverage on our collective solidarity while pursuing new approaches that deepen regional integration to boost intra ACP trade and investment among ourselves," he said.
The ACP summit of Heads of State and Governments is an organisation that brings together 79 leaders from African, Caribbean and the Pacific to promote their mutual interest. Ghana was the President of the 6th ACP summit, handing over the mantle to President Theodoro Obian Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea.
Source: Office of the President