The Coalition for Trade Facilitation, a private sector-led initiative has called for the immediate ratification and implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) which has been dragging on the corridors of power since 2013.
The TFA, according to the private sector coalition had been put into a Cabinet memo, and is at the Ministry of Trade for action to be taken on it.
The immediate past President of the Ghana Freight Forwarders, Joseph Agbaga speaking on a panel discussion on Ghana Television said he was aware the Cabinet memo was at the Trade Ministry and appealed that it should be given the priority that it deserves.
The Coalition which includes the World Trade Centre Accra, Association of Ghana Industries, Ghana Employers Association, Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, Ghana Shippers Authority, Federation of Association of Ghanaian Exporters, Ghana Union of Traders Association and the Ghana National Cargo Transporters Association maintained that when the TFA is ratified and implemented could raise the country’s export revenue.
Until recently, goods used to delay at the country’s ports and borders for days and even weeks before they are cleared. But the gloomy story turned to a bright one following the successful implementation of the Pre-Arrival Assessment Reporting System (PAARS), a component of the Ghana National Single Window (GNSW) project being implemented by West Blue Consulting on behalf of Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).
Since the introduction of the GNSW’s PAARS last year, traders are able to access Customs Classification and Valuation Report (CCVR) within 48 hours.
In some cases, within an hour that is substantial improvement from the previous situation whereby it used to take traders more than a week or two weeks just to get their CCVR, according to senior officials of the Customs Division of GRA.
The TFA will enter into force once two-thirds of WTO’s 162 members have completed their domestic ratification process. As of March 2016, out of the 80 WTO members that had ratified, only seven of them, excluding Ghana, were from Africa out of a total of 40 African WTO members.
Throwing more light, on the TFA, Emmanuel Doni-Kwame, the Secretary-General, International Chamber of Commerce (ICC Ghana) explained the need for the ratification and implementation of the trade facilitation agreement.
He said, “The issues that culminated in the drafting of the agreement have to do with issues that confront us on a daily basis and we have observed that at most ICC meetings. These issues are prevalent in developing countries especially ours.”
He said the TFA contained provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit.
“It also sets out measures for effective cooperation between customs and other appropriate authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues. It further contains provisions for technical assistance and capacity building in this area,” he said.
Contributing to the discussion, Madam Valentina Mintah, the Chief Executive Officer of West Blue Consulting,said the TFA was important to business, because it could have a major impact on bringing down trade transaction costs and raising the country’s export revenues.
Statistics have shown that Ghana’s total export revenues for its three major commodities such as cocoa, oil and gold amounted to US$8.2billion for the period between January and September 2014, which was reduced by US$2.4billion to US$5.8billion for the same period in 2015. The revenues figure is expected to fall further this year.
Madam Mintah stressed that the TFA when ratified and implemented could further boost trade facilitation and increase more revenues into the country.
Business Desk Report