Shippers concerned about high costs of doing business

The Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA) says high cost of doing business at the country’s ports of entry continue to be a source of worry for players in the shipping industry in international trade.

This situation, according to Mr Robin Huws Barnes, Takoradi Branch Manager of the GSA, had made many shippers in the country non-competitive.

He said this at a day’s forum on the single window project and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreement on Trade Facilitation at Takoradi in the Western Region.

The forum, organised by the GSA  and West Blue Consultancy, was  attended by government and regulatory organisations, importers and exporters, members  of the Western and  Central Regional Shippers Committees and other operators  along the  logistics chain.

It afforded participants the opportunity to have a clear understanding of the provisions of the single window and the WTO Agreement and how they impact on businesses.

Mr. Barnes noted at the forum that the high cost of doing business at the ports and borders was due to illegitimate and indiscriminate charges by some service providers, cumbersome clearance procedure and delays in the processing of cargo documents.

He said the launch of the Ghana National Single Window (GNSW) project in December 2015, was welcome news for the GSA, as it provided another opportunity to improve the clearance process at the ports “and we, therefore, entreat all stakeholders to support it for successful implementation in Ghana.”

The single window allows parties involved in trade and transport to lodge standardised information and document with single entry point to fulfil all import and export and transit related regulatory requirement.

Mr. Barnes noted that the system, aimed at enhancing customs controls and risk management, ensure uniform legislation and eliminates voluminous paper work, all resulting in an overall reduction in business costs for traders.

He said over the  years, the GSA  had collaborated with private and public organisations  in the maritime transport  industry to  pursue its mandate  of  protecting and  promoting the interest of shippers  in port, ship and  inland transport through  workshops, seminars and open fora, and  the regular publication of vessel  movement schedules, resolution of shipper complaints, research and  advocacy.

According to Mr. Barnes, the GSA supported the GCNet system which was also introduced to ensure quick processing of customs clearance documentation to reduce the wastage associated with clearing goods.

He said the pursuit of these activities had contributed significantly to efforts at reducing the cost of doing business in the country’s ports.

Mr. Barnes urged shippers to engage the services of reputable shipping services providers and also consult the Authority to guide them in their business transactions to avoid being swindled by charlatans.

He hoped that the opportunity provided at the forum would improve shippers’ knowledge and understanding of the environment in which they operated.

Mr Adedapo Adegoke, Domain Expert and Customs Liaison Manager at the National Single Window, said the project would help reduce corruption, ensure compliance, allow for coordinated border management and inspection as well as effective collaboration.

The GNSW project is being implemented by West Blue Consulting to streamline clearance procedures at the port of entry.

From Clement Adzei Boye,Takoradi

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