Ghana has set 2020 to fully comply with the World Trade Organization’s agreement on Trade Facilitation.
The Trade Facilitation Agreement is to expedite the movement, release and clearance of goods at the port.
When implemented fully, the agreement will address the issue of slow customs clearance, duplication of border agencies and documents and also reduce the cost of exports, imports and transit trade clearance process by 14 percent.
Currently, Ghana is implementing some of the provisions in the Trade Facilitation Agreement following the introduction of the paperless system and the reduction of the number of inspection agencies at the port.
These initiatives meet the provisions in the agreement which require members of the World Trade Organization, to decrease the time for clearance at their ports.
However, Ghana is yet to meet other provisions including the reduction in cost of trade at the ports as importers complain about the high charges and fees on their goods. Ghana has ratified and developed a roadmap for the full implementation of the agreement by 2020.
At the moment, the roadmap is with the Trade Ministry.
It is not clear when it will be sent to Cabinet for approval. However, Executive Secretary of the International Chamber of Commerce Ghana, (ICC), and Emmanuel Doni-Kwame says the 2020 deadline can only be achieved if government engages the private sector.
“So far, a lot have been done, we as private sector would like to focus on some key articles we know can be done immediately and this has to do with access to information. Yes we have gone paperless so you are able to clear your goods quickly but you end up paying more, because some information are still not easily accessible.”
Mr. Doni-Kwame was of the view that port charges can be reviewed downward.
“We have done some research and realized that some of the fees can be worked on. The drafters of the agreement acknowledged that less developed countries will charge more on goods because they may not have the necessary infrastructure and would need the money to develop. But with time, the fees are supposed to come down,” he added.
The National Trade Facilitation Committee set up by the Trade Ministry is spearheading the implementation of the agreement.
The drafted roadmap is yet to be submitted to the Vice President ahead of the implementation.
The Trade Facilitation Agreement was accepted by members of World Trade Organization in 2017 after they concluded negotiations in 2013.
More than two-third of members of the World trade organization have so far ratified the agreement to make import, export and transit trade processes simpler, modernized and harmonized