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 Full text 
Wednesday, 30 November 2016 - Brussels Revised edition

EU-Ghana Stepping Stone Economic Partnership Agreement (debate)

  Christofer Fjellner, rapporteur. – Mr President, this trade deal with Ghana is very important. It is especially important for Ghana. In 2015, Ghanaian exports to the European Union accounted for EUR 2.4 billion. 46% of Ghana’s exports was to the European Union. The consequences of voting ‘no’ to this agreement, of not ratifying this agreement, would be dramatic for Ghana. They would face a wall of EU tariffs. Even though the average tariff for Ghana would be around 8.13% – it might not sound much but it is a prohibitive tariff level; for many products in areas where Ghana has a lot of exports, the tariffs are even higher. For bananas, for example, they would have most favoured nation duties of 19.7%, and for prepared tuna 20.7%. The consequences of saying ‘no’ to this would be dramatic for Ghana.

And why would they face this wall of tariffs? The answer is simple: because the current trade regime the EU has with Ghana – the Market Access Regulation – is running out in 2016. That is the reason why we have to take this decision now. And then one might ask: why does the current regime run out in 2016? The answer to that is actually pretty simple: it is because we in this House decided so. With a broad majority. I remember negotiating with my good friend and colleague David Martin, on specifically that date, to say that this existing trade regime should run out in 2016. But the thing with this trade agreement is that it is actually a pretty good agreement. It is a good agreement that we present instead of the current regime. Ghana will get duty-free access to the European Union from day one. 75% of Ghanaian tariff lines will be liberalised, yes, but they will be liberalised over 15 years.

People talk about the fact that we need to have asymmetrical agreements, taking into account that they do not have the same level of development in many areas and competitiveness. I would say if this is not asymmetrical, taking that into account, I cannot imagine what would be. They get free access: from day one, 75% of their lines will be liberalised, but over 15 years. It is worth repeating. And the tariffs removed in Ghana are mainly things like industrial machines, pumps, generators, turbines, certain vehicles, boats, aircraft, cars, certain chemicals – all of those are used as input to Ghanaian industries and not produced locally. Eliminating import duties on these products will reduce the cost of imports for local businesses and increase their competitiveness.

What we didn’t liberalise is mainly agriculture, the sensitive stuff, things like chicken and other meat, tomatoes, onions, sugar, tobacco, beer, clothes, wheat, frozen fish, some industrial things like industrial plastics. We did take their needs into account. And there are safeguards in this agreement to protect the Ghanaian side. But not only that. The reason I speak about Ghana now and what this means to Ghana is no serious actors have questioned that this will have any serious implications on the European Union and our trade policy. Those who are criticising say it is bad for Ghana, but we should let Ghana decide what is good or bad for Ghana, and Ghana is a democracy. The government and parliament have with broad majority supported this, and why should we then reject it?

Let me therefore finish by quoting the Minister of Foreign Affairs from Ghana, Hanna Tetteh, in her letter to the Committee on International Trade, where she says: ‘We believe, when it comes to determine the matter of what is in our best national interest, we, as elected representatives of the people of Ghana, the Parliament of the Republic of Ghana, have both the legitimacy and the mandate to make that determination, and not to any other third party, irrespective of however well intended such third party decisions might be’. Don’t act as new imperialists here. Listen and respect the people of Ghana, and let them decide if it is good for them.

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