More than 15,000 direct and indirect jobs are currently being affected negatively due to the failure of Ghana and UK to sign a post-Brexit trade agreement that allows Ghanaian fruit producers’ tariff-free access to the UK market as exists under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
Ghana and UK failed to finalise a trade agreement before the end of the BREXIT transition on 31st December, 2020. This means 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 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.
Livelihoods at stake
These Fairtrade Certified Producer organisations together employ over 5,000 direct workers and create more than 10,000 indirect jobs. As Fairtrade Certified organisations, these fruit producers ensure safe working conditions, fair wages, protect workers’ rights, and most recently the Banana producers have committed to working progressively towards paying living wage to workers in the next three to five years.
The banana producers’ association of Ghana comprises of three companies; Golden Exotic Limited, Musahamat Farm Limited and Volta River Estates Limited situated in the Greater Accra and Eastern regions with a surface area of about 2,500 hectares and a workforce of about 4500. These companies also provide an additional 10,000 indirect employment. The industry has been actively exporting bananas for the past 26 years to the EU market to which the UK belonged until BREXIT came into force as from 1st January, 2021.
Two of these companies are Fairtrade certified and altogether, the three companies export about 85,000 MT of bananas annually with about 60 per cent of exports going to the UK market. Fairtrade bananas exported to the UK are considered a premium product that allow companies to earn social premiums that help to improve infrastructural development in local communities where the companies and its employees are located.