Business News of Wednesday, 4 October 2017
Vice President Dr Mahamadu Bawumia says government has removed all internal customs barriers and redeployed personnel to critical operational areas to facilitate trade in the sub-region to allow the free movement of goods between Ghana’s ports and neighbouring countries.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 6th International Single Window Conference and Exhibition, which opened yesterday in Accra, the Vice President said the move would help ensure the successful implementation of the Paperless Port Transactions, which took effect on September 1, this year at the country’s ports.
The three-day event is being hosted by the Ghana Community Network Services Limited (GCNet) and African Alliance for Electronic Commerce (AACE).
More than 500 visitors are attending the conference, including nearly 200 delegates from several African countries.
“Without a doubt, an effective Single-Window platform simplifies port operations and transactions, and it is not surprising therefore that a number of countries which are implementing this platform have highly efficient port operations and are able to generate significant revenues for national development.
“For importers, it reduces cost through minimal clerical effort, facilitates faster goods clearance, fosters predictability and reliability in consignment clearance, and reduces time-consuming face-to-face interactions while for logistics operators, they benefit from faster movement of goods, reliable information on timing of goods movement, more productive and flexible use of human resources and better end-to-end operations.”
He revealed that the abolishment and reduction of a variety of nuisance taxes that hamper the growth of private sector businesses was already yielding the desired results.
“Over the years, delays in the clearance of goods and therefore demurrage and rent charges had become a major bottleneck to trade. In 2016 importers paid an estimated amount of US$100 million in demurrage charges alone. Three years earlier, in 2013, it was estimated at US$75 million. This, certainly, was unsustainable to importers. Further to this, government has had to deal with serious revenue leakages at our ports due to the many human interventions in the process flow.”
Noting that the introduction of the paperless port had been achieved through collaboration with the relevant stakeholders, he said government never spent a pesewa to make that happen.
Dr Bawumia also noted that to further facilitate trade, government has signed an MoU with the United States government under the new United States (US) Trade Africa initiative to expand bilateral trade and investment cooperation to support Ghana in four broad areas. These include the implementation of Category ‘C’ measures of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement; the setting up of the Ghana International Trade Commission; Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), as well as Sanitary and PhytoSanitary (SPS) measures.
“This year, the Ministry of Trade and Industry is upgrading some Category ‘B’ and ‘C’ measures to meet the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement requirements and deal with issues relating to TBT and SPS measures to improve the ease of doing business.
The WTO estimates that the full implementation of its Trade Facilitation Agreement could reduce trade costs by an average of 14.3 percent and boost global trade by up to $1 trillion per year, with the biggest gains in the poorest countries.
“Ghana is currently a signatory to this agreement and I urge countries which have not yet signed on to the agreement to do so.”
Robert Ahomka Lindsay, a deputy Trade Minister, said there should be a concerted drive to engage in high-level consultations and sensitization with the private sector in the entire reform process so it does not become another ‘top-down’ political process.