Government must work to expedite the release of goods at the various ports of entry through improvement in the pre-arrival processing in compliance with global best practices, Mr. Dietmar Jost, An International Trade and Customs expert has said.
“Even though Ghana has made some progress in introducing the pre-arrival system in the clearance of goods at the ports and borders, government must expedite the release of goods through pre-arrival processing in compliance with global best practices,” he said.
According to Dietmar Jost, who doubles as a Consultant for German Development Agency (GIZ), the current release time does not comply with global best practices, hence, the need for the Ghana government to make further improvement in the process to reduce the overall number of formalities and documentations required in the clearance process.
He said this at an implementation planning workshop of the Expedite Release of Goods through Pre-Arrival Processing” project organised by the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation in partnership with the International Chamber of Commerce Ghana to support the government to implement Article 7.1 of the trade facilitation agreement of the World Trade Organization which requires that the clearance process is expedited.
The three-day implementation workshop held at Prampram in the Greater Accra Region, funded by GIZ, was also in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority.
It was and was aimed at updating stakeholders with the many developments happening in the border clearance process in Ghana.
Dietmar Jost urged border agencies to introduce procedures that allow the submission and completion of formalities prior to the arrival of goods that will expedite the release of goods into Ghana “so as to reduce the delays of getting goods into the country.”
“In international supply chain, trade facilitation time is of essence. Time means cost so if you reduce the time it takes to import goods into Ghana, you reduce the cost for the importers and exporters. It will ensure and increase the competitiveness of Ghana,” he said.
He said the overall objective of the workshop is to perform pre-arrival processing including electronic manifest and bill of entry processing by utilizing existing IT landscape to enable paperless release upon arrival of goods for all low risk shipment.
On the commencement of the paperless system at the country’s Ports, he said: “The policy that we envisage should be a hundred percent paperless not only at policy level but operational level as well.”
Participants, drawn from various cross border trade institutions, looked at new and latest developments affecting border clearance procedures and processes in the country and agreed on a target model for pre-arrival processing and conduct a gap analysis to identify areas of improvements.
Mr. Anthony Nyame-Baafi, Director for Multilateral, Regional and Bilateral Trade at the Ministry for Trade and Industry who also doubles as Chairman of the National Trade Facilitation Committee said implementing trade facilitation measures in the World Trade Organization agreement will go a long way to reduce cost in the clearance of goods from the ports as well as attract foreign direct investment into the country.
He explained that the project is aimed at significantly expediting the release of goods, which is a core objective of the trade facilitation agreement, proposing that the new Pre-Arrival Assessment Reporting System (PAARS) has reduced clearance times significantly, the system would have to be integrated into a TFA compatible pre-arrival process in order to generate additional efficiencies and release time reductions.
He added that the recent introduction of the paperless regime at the country’s ports formed part of the measures to facilitate the clearance of goods through the PAARS which came into effect in 2015.
Mr Fetchin Akoto, Chief Revenue Officer, Customs Operation at the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority entreated importers to start their clearance documentation ahead of the arrival of their goods.
Ratification of WTO’s TFA
Following Ghana’s ratification of the World Trade Organsiation’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and the coming into force of the Agreement, active work has been ongoing by all relevant stakeholders to ensure the successful execution of the TFA Articles.
The Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation in collaboration with the International Chamber of Commerce launched the ‘Expedite Release of Goods through Pre-Arrival Processing’ project in Accra.
The project’s goal is to support Ghana’s commitment to the expedite release of goods and make Ghana complete the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.
Expedite release of goods is the joint interest of the private sector and the government. Ghana’s ratification of the WTO TFA has demonstrated the county’s commitment to make cross-border trade easier.
The Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation is a global public-private partnership based on the initiative of five donors namely Australia, Canada, Germany, UK, and USA and a number of private sector enterprises. Together, they have mobilized multinational and Ghanaian business expertise to support Ghana’s implementation of the TFA.