Ghana needs to accelerate the implementation of the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET) to facilitate the harmonisation of trade in the sub region, Dr Kofi Mbia, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA), has urged.
The tariff is one of the instruments for harmonising trade among ECOWAS member states and has the potential to develop and strengthen its common market.
The decision to have a CET was taken at an extraordinary meeting of Conference of Heads of State and Governments of Economic Community of West African States held in Senegal in 2013.
“Trade facilitation among the shippers is very important as it helps in the improvement of transactions, reduces costs and saves time,” he said at a three-day training programme at Paga in the Upper East Region.
The programme was aimed at contributing to the effective implementation of the ECOWAS CET by strengthening the capacity of customs officials at the borders to understand the provisions of the tariff, among others.
Whilst some countries in the sub-region started the implementation process in January 2015, Ghana started the process on February 1, 2016.
Dr. Mbia said the implementation of the ECOWAS CET, would help promote a common tariff regime among member states as well as offer special protection measures aimed at addressing any trade imbalances across member states.
He was optimistic that the harmonisation of the tariff regime among member states would help address the issue.
Dr. Mbia said the GSA had been collaborating with the Customs, the Borderless Alliance and other key stakeholders in the trade and transport industry with the objective of improving the business environment.
“In particular, the collaboration ensures that shippers in Ghana and the transit shippers remained very competitive in the international logistic chain,” he said.
Ms. Afua Eshun, the Programme Advisor of the Borderless Alliance said her outfit, which is a regional advocacy organisation, shared the vision of ECOWAS — promoting the free movement of goods and persons in the sub-region.
Borderless Alliance, has a membership of 83 private sector companies working in hand with public institutions, civil society organisations and the media in West Africa,
The Deputy Head of the Customers Technical Services Bureau, Seidu Yakubu , who doubled as the resource person, stressed the need for effective collaboration and coordination among the stakeholders.