Four institutions petition GITC over unfair trade practices
Four industries have petitioned the Ghana International Trade Commission (GITC) to institute trade measures to protect them from unfair trade practices and imminent collapse.
They include Aluworks Limited, Cement Manufacturers Association of Ghana (CMAG), Steel Manufacturers Association of Ghana (SMAG) and Association of Biscuit Manufacturers.
It was received in Accra on Wednesday by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Alan Kyeremanten, and his deputy, Carlos Ahenkorah, Chairman of the GITC, Nana Dr Adu Gyamfi Prempeh, Frank Agyekum, Executive Secretary of GITC and other Commissioners of GITC.
Mr Kwasi Okoh, Managing Director, Aluworks Limited, said export rebate on aluminium in China had allowed export of cheap aluminium to Ghana, thus diverting demand for locally made goods.
The practice which was gradually leading to the collapse of Aluworks, he said, was unfair and could be described as ‘dumping’ as contained in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) laws.
He said the recently revised import duty benchmarking had deepened the export rebate effect on Aluworks.
He asked the GITC to apply the WTO rule by imposing equivalent additional duties to match the level of any export rebate granted.
Executive Secretary of SMAG and CMAG, Dr George Dawson-Ahmoah, noted that the two industries have adequate installed capacity to meet demand for cement and steel in the country.
While cement manufacturers have 11 .6 million metric tonnes installed capacity per year, steel manufacturers also have one million metric tonnes installed capacity which were enough to meet demand, he stated.
“With the steel industry, out of the one million metric tonnes, average demand is 350,000 metric tonnes with surplus of 650,000 metric tonnes. This situation is bad for these companies because they cannot survive and even grow to provide jobs,” he added.
The petition, he said, was to draw attention to challenges facing the industries due to unfair trade practices and the need for safeguard measures to protect the industries.
Adel Shami, General Manager, Mass Industries Limited, who spoke on behalf of the Association of Biscuit Manufacturers, said the industry was faced with unrealistic low values for imported biscuits which have adversely affected demand for locally made biscuits.
Again, he said the imposition of environment tax on imported plastic wrappers for biscuits production while biscuits importers do not pay same tax despite using same plastic wrappers was unfair and detrimental to local manufacturers.
He called on the GITC to increase minimum value of imported biscuits and add three per cent environment tax on imported wrappers.
Receiving the petitions, Mr Kyeremanten said the opening up of Ghana’s markets had resulted in the influx of cheap, substandard and pirated goods in the local market.
He said it was time Ghana relied on the WTO trade regime to protect businesses and industries from unfair trade which was inimical to economic growth.
He explained that the GITC was created to support and guarantee equitable competitive environment for local industries and imported goods and urged the private sector to take advantage of the Commissions service and expertise to resolve some of their challenges.
Mr Agyekum noted that the GITC would immediately look into and commence investigations into the petitions for appropriate measures to deal with the problem within a nine-month period or less.
“We will do all our investigations in a transparent manner. Once all the work is done and the findings are concluded, we will make recommendations to the minister based on WTO measures. It will not go beyond nine months. This timeline is in line with WTO regulations,” he stated.
BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS