High charges impede trade — USAID report
A new study conducted by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) at the country’s sea ports has revealed that excessive fees and charges are adversely impeding the ease of doing business at the ports and the country as a whole.
The report gives details on how official and unofficial charges are hampering smooth business operation and was at the same time robbed the country of revenue and increased trade volumes.
The report ,which was released in Accra on June 28 also identified duplication of functions by some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as one of the top challenges impeding ease of doing business at the ports.
The study by the USAID is one of the benchmark guidelines outlined in the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).
The TFA, which entered into force on February 22, this year, aims at expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit.
The Director of the Revenue Policy Unit of the Ministry of Finance, Mr Anthony Dzadra, said the government expected the implementation of the TFA to boost trade facilitation by specifically reducing the cost of doing business.
“We are told that the TFA will reduce effective cooperation between customs and other actors on trade facilitation and customs compliance matters. An important component of the TFA is the capacity and technical assistance it will officer countries such as Ghana,” he said.
He explained that the government was fully aware of the gains of the agreement for both the public and the private sector hence the resolve to implement it fully.
Mr Dzadra added that the government had also taken note of the challenges that were likely to impede the seamless implementation of aspects of the agreement, including charges imposed by MDAs..
Bring efficiency to ports
Mr Dzadra cited the national single window initiative as one of the systems the government has established to allow all persons involved in trade and transports to lodge standardised information with an entry point in order to fulfill all imports, exports, transits and customs-related requirements.
This, he said would help permit all trade activities to be carried out through a single portal in order to reduce cost.
“I want to reiterate the government’s commitment to collaborate with other trade organisations in the import and export trade business to ensure that the cost of doing business in the country is minimised,” he added.
USA wants reforms
The US Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Robert Jackson, said the country had the potential to benefit significantly should it implement the reforms highlighted in the report.
He observed that the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development had estimated that the full implementation of the TFA could reduce worldwide trade costs by 17.5 per cent, with the greatest benefits accruing to Africa and other developing countries.
“Ghana has tremendous potential to be the trade gateway of Africa,” he said and added that, “the United States will work with you to create an enabling business environment that will build on your economic and political stability and creates jobs for the citizens of both countries,” he added.