By David Adadevoh Tuesday, 03 March 2009
Despite the global financial turmoil, the government of France will continue to provide its official development assistance to Ghana..To this end, the French government has pledged to maintain its annual 50 million Euro official evelopment assistance to Ghana this year.
Mrs. Anne-Marie Idrac, French Deputy Minister for External Trade, who was on a two-day visit to Ghana, speaking at a news conference in Accra at the weekend, said France considered the development of Ghana and the entire African continent a major priority, hence, the decision to continue withÂ its assistance agenda.
â€œAlthough the financial crisis is having a toll on the western world, assistance towards the development of emerging economies will still continue,â€ she said.
With her on the visit was an eleven-member team of medium and small scale companies who are interested in investing in the Ghanaian economy.
Mrs. Idrac said there was the need for the two countries to deepen trade relations for speedy development, adding that bilateral trade between the two countries as at the end of last year amounted to about 500 million Euro.
â€œWe have the potential to increase this figure if businesses explore business opportunities in both countries,â€ she said. She mentioned sectors such as agro-processing, water, oil and gas, transport and logistics, and tourism as areas of importance to the French government.
On her countryâ€™s stand on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPAs) between Europe and the Africa Caribbean and Pacific countries, she said the agreement was tailored towards the development of developing countries as they would have the opportunity to export more to the European market.
â€œThe Economic Partnership Agreement is a hope for employment and a means of fostering regional integration of partner countries,â€ she said. The EUâ€™s Economic Partnership Agreements are the new trade arrangements that the EU is negotiating with the six African Caribbean and Pacific regions.
These will replace the trade chapters of the Cotonou Agreement when the trade preferences of this agreement expire at the end of 2007. The EPAs will be broad agreements, helping, first of all, to build regional markets and diversify economies in the ACP regions before opening up trade.
The agreement, she said, would assist Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs) in partner countries to export to European markets without any hindrance. Asked when would the full agreementÂ expected to be signed, she said â€œbarring any unforeseen circumstances it would be signed in the next few monthsâ€