Ghana says it will not allow itself to be stampeded into signing any Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) that will negatively affect its people.
According to the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ambassador Thomas Kwesi Quartey, there was the tendency for the European Union (EU) to always present a position as if it was doing Africans a favour and that “we just take it and shut up”.
Mr Quartey was reacting to concerns raised by the EU Representative in Ghana, Mr Claude Maerten, over the reluctance of the country to sign the EPAs, which have 2014 as a deadline.
Interacting with officials of the EU and its member states in Ghana and the staff of his ministry in Accra Wednesday as part of activities marking the EU Day, Mr Quartey said the behaviour of the EU was “damaging” to itself and other nations such as Ghana.
The manner in which the EU was pushing Ghana to sign the EPAs “brings lingering questions to the minds of Africans”, he said. Until his appointment, Ambassador Quartey was a retired career diplomat.
He recounted an occasion when he had accompanied a Ghanaian ambassador to complain to the EU about its threat to introduce shea butter oil into chocolate production, a situation which would affect Ghana’s cocoa exports.
He said just after they had explained the issue, the EU officer told them point blank that “this is a concession we are giving you; you either take it or leave it”.
Ambassador Quartey said although they had lodged a complaint with the EU and the officer had been made to apologise, that posturing by EU officials was not the best of tastes.
Historically, he said, Africa had offered assistance in many forms that surpassed what EU countries had been giving to the continent.
Ambassador Quartey’s comments drew large applause from the gathering, including staff of the ministry and reporters.
Earlier, in a prepared speech, he said, “Now, if our European friends and neighbours are to be true to themselves, we must all admit that Europe has been a central factor in this history of divide and rule (of Africa] and must assist us to work towards eradicating these artificially, externally imposed boundaries.”
He further urged the EU to assist in the transformation of such boundaries from fences that undermined the unity of Africa to allow for free and unfettered development of the continent’s productive forces.
He commended the EU for contributing more than half of Ghana’s official development assistance (ODA) and also pledging to provide more than 150 million euros for Ghana this year.
Mr Maerten was of the view that Ghana needed to sign the EPAs, adding that with issues being raised about the agreement, there was the need for further discussions to ensure that both sides appreciated the issues very well.
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