Hearing of Aluworks petition against Chinese exporters begins

Hearing of a petition filed by Aluworks at the Ghana International Trade Commission (GITC) against Chinese exporters of aluminum coil to Ghana has begun in Accra.  

The Aluworks in its petition alleged that the exporters were receiving high export rebate from the Chinese government and in the process gradually pushing Aluworks out of business as their Chinese counterparts sell the ware cheaper than they do to local manufacturers.  

It, thus, wants the GITC to liaise with other relevant institutions to impose taxes equivalent to the rebate granted the Chinese exporters when their wares arrive in Ghana.

At a petition hearing in Accra yesterday, the Managing Director of Aluworks, Akwasi Okoh, told the panel that the “illegal” trade practice by their Chinese counterparts was knocking Aluworks out of business.

According to him, some of the violations include under-invoicing, deliberate mis-description on import documents to beat the system and declaration that the wares were for land locked neighbouring countries, and therefore, not accustomed but end up for sale in Kumasi.

The effect of these “unfair” trade practices, Mr Okoh said, was significantly lowering the market share of Aluworks.

To buttress this point, Mr Okoh said Aluworks, which was able to produce and sold over 15,800 metric tonnes of aluminum as at 2006, produced and sold only 3,800 in 2018, a loss in excess of 75 per cent over the period.

Demanding a level playing field, Mr Okoh said “the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) must be alert to their responsibilities in eliminating mis-description and therefore under-invoicing, so that the rights HS code can be applied to these goods.”

But in a sharp rebuttal, a former president of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Dr James Asare-Adjei, on behalf of the exporters said external players must not be blamed for the “inefficiencies” of Aluworks.

”Aluworks lacks the capacity to meet the demands of the local market in terms of aluminum volumes it can supply to the market,” he said, adding that the situation forced companies in the aluminum space to buy from neighbouring countries at a higher cost.

On allegations that the exporters were under invoicing, which he said were untrue, Dr Asare-Adjei referred the Commission to ascertain the truth for themselves.

“Abuse of concessionary rate of five per cent is not acceptable in any jurisdiction; these concessions are granted only to manufacturers, so if traders are also benefiting from same, Aluworks must assist the Commission with evidence relating to specific companies for the necessary sanctions to be applied,” he told the meeting.

He challenged Aluworks to prove to the Commission that, it indeed controls 25 per cent of the market share, hence forms a quorum for the petition, and urged the Commission to dismiss the application.

Chairman of the Commission, Professor Paul Kuruk, called for calm and assured that the Commission would go into the petition to find amicable solution to the impasse.

Adjourning the meeting to a fortnight, Prof. Kuruk said though competition was healthy for the industry, Ghana’s laws on international trade would be enforced for a healthy aluminum sector.

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI                                            

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