The European Union has been trying hard to have African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries sign Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) which will create free trade areas between the two regions.
In 2007, Ghana initialed an interim EPA. Cote d'Ivoire fully signed onto it with Nigeria refusing to sign. Initially these EPAs were supposed to take effect on January 1, 2008.
Many ACP countries are reluctant to sign them because there is very little direct benefit for their people while the EU has set stringent time-frames to beat competition from the US, China, Brazil, Turkey and India.
Under these EPAs, ACP countries will have to progressively remove all duty and other import tariffs on goods manufactured in EU countries. This means they will lose a vital source of their developmental revenue while gaining "access to EU markets".
Ghana has been operating under a temporary EPA for the last seven years.
President John Mahama has spoken positively of the agreements. But he's now facing fierce resistance from academics, trades unionists and manufacturers associations who warn that Ghana could be opening itself up to a neo-colonial invasion from European products.
Given the technological advances in Europe and heavy subsidies on their farm products, competition will always favor already developed EU countries.
EU subsidies also mean EU companies could literally dump their goods in ACP countries, thereby accelerating the pace of de-industrialization in those African countries.