Although port clearance processes went paperless in September last year, the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) is urging government to inject transparency into the valuation processes at the country’s ports.
Among the concerns raised by the AGI are under-invoicing and under-declaration by importers, in addition to the ineffective scanning system at the ports among others. Some of the manufacturers are members of the AGI, and they have complained that as a result of these underhand dealings, their businesses are collapsing since they are not able to compete with the imported products.
For instance, mosquito coil producers are on the verge of folding up their operations as the imported substitutes which have flooded the market avoid import tax and are therefore cheaper than the locally manufactured ones.
Fruit juice manufacturers face a similar crisis, in spite of the port processes going paperless as well as the single window regime in place – and they are not happy with the situation. Making their views public at the AGI press encounter, some of the manufacturers said they have as many as 200 employees, and now all these people will have to go home since conditions are not fair for them to compete effectively.
Government is purposed that the country will be less aid-dependent and more trade-oriented, which is why it has adopted policies like the One District, One Factory initiative to boost local manufacturing and enable the country to be more competitive in the global marketplace.
However, the AGI is cautioning that if such unlawful trade practices are allowed to fester at the ports, it will kill-off local industries that are engaged in manufacturing and the effort being made to entrench local industrialisation could be defeated.
If local manufacturers have to fold up due to unfair trade practices, their workers will be laid-off and the unemployment situation will be exacerbated. Therefore, government, through the Ministry of Trade and Industry, must take up the matter and ensure that importers are not able to under-cut the system in such a manner.
Even the most advanced democracies like the USA are adopting policies and measures that protect local industries, and Ghana which is still developing its manufacturing sector cannot afford to liberalise to the benefit of foreign competition.
We must be able to impose levies on mosquito coil imports to give local manufacturers the needed space to compete. The same goes for fruit juices, since we are encouraging horticulture production and adding value to raw produce through the much touted One District, One Factory initiative.