Government has been asked to come clean on its interim trade agreement terms with the United Kingdom.
The call by the Executive Secretary of the Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana, Samson Asaaki Awingobit, is in light of the persistent charge of tariffs on exported goods – particularly fruit exports – from the Ghana to the UK despite the existence of a signed trade agreement between both countries.
Ghana and UK failed to finalise a post Brexit trade agreement that allows Ghanaian fruit producers’ tariff-free and quota-free access to the UK market as exists under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) before the end of the BREXIT transition on December 31, 2020.
On December 31, 2020, Ghana signed a new trade agreement scheduled to take effect January 1, 2021 with the UK, but which was later backed-out by the UK with the excuse of wanting to amend some portions of the trade deal.
Eventually on Thursday, February 4, 2021, an “Interim Ghana-UK Trade Partnership Agreement” was signed by both countries which would replace already existing trade deals, with a caveat that the trade deal will only come into effect following the “completion of relevant internal procedures required in both countries.”
Speaking in an exclusive interview with norvanreports, Mr Awingobit urged government to come clean on it trade terms with the UK and explain the delays in the implementation of the interim trade agreement signed with the UK.
“Government has to come out and tell Ghanaians particularly us – exporters and importers – on what these ‘relevant internal procedures’ are and what needs to be rectified to allow exporters enjoy the free trade access to the UK under the agreement,” he said [sic]
“What is the UK demanding in order to give Ghanaian exporters the freedom to access its market and benefit from the trade deal, because this is a time in which our economy has been badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and the economy needs to recover and if exporters are paying tariffs on exports when they should be free, it adds to their cost of doing business which does not augur well for exporters,” he added [sic].
More than 15,000 direct and indirect jobs are currently being affected negatively due to both countries failure to operationalize the signed trade agreement and that has resulted in exorbitant tariffs for Ghanaian banana, cocoa, and other fruit exporters who are now trading under the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP).
For the banana sector, exporters who were previously trading under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the EU, without payment of tariffs, now have to pay 95GBP (Ghs 761.87) tariff per ton of banana.
Affected companies that are Fairtrade Certified producers and members of Fairtrade Africa (FTA) namely the network of all Fairtrade Certified Producer Organisations in Africa and the Middle East are: Golden Exotics Limited (GEL), Volta River Estates Limited (VREL), and Blue Skies Company Limited.