The delay in the implementation of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) may be impacting negatively on West African economies.
At least this is the indication from the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr. Ekow Spio-Garbrah.
According to him, although majority of West African countries have signed onto the agreement, two countries are yet to sign which is dragging the process of implementation.
The EPA involves the gradual removal of tariffs on a number of imports coming into Ghana from the European Union (EU) in 20 years with five years moratorium from its implementation.
In return, the EU is expected to continue to offer duty-free access to the EU market as well as a 6.5 billion Euro development programme.
But speaking to Citi Business News on progress made so far, Dr. Spio -Garbrah also lamented the delay has affected access to the 6.5 billion euro funding support.
"... So the funds were intended to enable us gain grounds or to produce a more level playing field so that West African countries could also compete somewhat better than we do now. But they (EU) are not giving us the funds and still want to enter our market which of course they have are doing quite well, then we are still at a disadvantage," Dr. Spio Garbrah stated.
Dr. Spio Garbrah was however hopeful the release of funding to countries which have signed onto the program will attract the last two to follow.
"We at the Ministry of Trade and Industry have been urging the EU to begin to give the monies to those countries like Ghana which have signed so that those countries that have not signed will see that there are some benefits in signing but if you sign and don't get anything in one year, then the others will be made to think same but the Europeans do not agree with us at this time," the Minister added.