The European Union (EU) has recently enforced a law penalizing commodity trading companies importing cocoa, coffee, rubber, timber, and related commodities linked to deforestation and practices like child labor from developing countries.
This regulation necessitates companies to present a due diligence statement demonstrating their supply chains’ non-contribution to forest destruction before selling goods to the EU, under the risk of facing substantial fines. Consequently, this move has been perceived as a potential de facto ban on Ghana’s cocoa export to the EU, given that Ghana’s cocoa is predominantly grown in forests where children often assist their parents on farms.
Ghana, already adversely affected by EU import regulations and sanctions in the past, faces additional challenges with the new legislation. The country is grappling with significant forest depletion due to activities such as cocoa farming, illegal logging, and mining. The EU serves as a crucial market for Ghana’s primary commodities, with a considerable portion of cocoa, coffee, and timber being directed to the EU. Failure to comply with the new regulations could result in severe social and economic consequences for the local industries involved in cocoa, coffee, and timber production.
Expressing concerns about the EU’s treatment of Ghana and other developing countries, the Ghana Agricultural and Rural Development Journalists Association (GARDJA) highlights the potential economic impact and challenges posed by the new EU law. They question the extent to which the EU considered the likely economic consequences and whether producing countries were involved in the decision-making process.
The statement signed by the President of GARDJA, Mr. Richmond Frimpong, also emphasizes the need for a shift in business practices, advocating for producing countries to focus on processing raw materials into finished and semi-finished products rather than exporting them in their raw state. This, they argue, would increase the demand for these commodities and place pressure on the EU to reconsider its regulations on producing countries.
Additionally, the association emphasizes the importance of strict laws and policies on child labor within Ghana, aiming to counter misrepresentations in foreign media. They call for an approach that encourages fair farm gate prices for farmers, creating adequate wealth within the sector and reducing the need for child labor.
In conclusion, GARDJA urges the European Union to reconsider its stance on the threats facing the cash crop sector in the developing world, emphasizing the need for fair compensation for farmers within the value chain.