The Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana (IEAG) are vehemently opposed to moves by the Ghana Standard Authority (GSA), to begin the issuance of Certificate of Conformity (CoC) effective October, 1st 2014 as a requirement for the clearance of goods at the ports.
The move, the association believed if implemented would be a duplication of the same duty currently being performed by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and a further drain on their businesses through charges.
Mr Sampson Awingobit Asaki, Executive Secretary of the Association registered the protest after meeting with the parliamentary select committee on Trade, Industry and Tourism to state their case in parliament house.
According to the Executive Secretary, local importers are confused about the CoC and are very apprehensive about the GSA’s intentions due to lack of information and education on the intended exercise.
Mr Asaki has therefore called on the Ghana Standards Authority to suspend the implementation of the exercise until all stakeholders are consulted and the public well educated on the CoC, to clear the doubts of members of the association.
The association he said considered the issuance of the CoC as a duplication of FDA`s procedure of inspection of goods and wondered “why would GSA not liaise with the FDA to carry out one standard inspection instead of embarking on different inspections at the expense of the importer’’.
Mr Asaki grumbled that importers are already required pay as much as 20,000 US dollars to enable FDA officials to travel to the exporting countries to ensure safety and standards of goods imported to Ghana.
He also alleged that unofficial information suggests that as much as $ 300 would be charge for the issuance of a CoC and was not even sure whether it would cover all the products.
This he said would burden the business community with multiple charges and payments and affect consumers as well.
The Importers and Exporters have thus urged Parliament to review the duplication of duties among agencies operating at the port when a bill is laid before them for the introduction of new policies to govern imports and export regimes in the country.
A CoC is a document issued as evidence of compliance of shipment to the relevant internationally approved standards.
According to the GSA, all shipments performed from October, 1 this year will have to present a Certificate of Conformity for customs clearance; arrivals without a CoC will be subject to a penalty”.
The objective of the CoC according to the GSA is to ensure quality of products, and the health, safety, and environmental protection of Ghanaian consumers.
It is also to prevent the importation of unsafe, sub-standard and / or counterfeit goods.
International law requires goods to undergo verification processes, which include physical inspection, laboratory testing, factory audit and documentary verification to obtain evidence that all requirements are met in applicable standards or technical requirement.
Meanwhile, Mr George Kweku Ofori, President of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) has backed the demands of the importers and Exporters Association saying; “the CoC is not just a duplication of duty but would have negative consequences on businesses in the country and must be rejected ’’.
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