The Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) is calling on government to, as a matter of urgency, block all loopholes at the ports and entry points of the country which enable importers to cheat the system by under-valuing their goods and services or under-invoicing their imports, as a means to protect made in Ghana products.
Chief Executive Officer of AGI, Seth Twum-Akwaboah, in an interview with the B&FT indicated that the best way of protecting local industries or businesses is to enhance efficiency levels to the highest degree attainable and lower the cost of production, so that the products produced in the economy will be competitively priced to compete with those from any other part of the world.
“When we have allowed our entry points to be porous – admitting anything and everything into the country both at the air and seaports and land borders, it is very difficult to charge local industry to compete with imported goods. There is under-invoicing and valuation at our ports, and until we are able to block those loopholes, they will bring in those products and sell them at less cost than the locally produced ones.
“When you protect the market and police the system with the right policies and measures – not only on paper, but enforce them to the letter and ensure that right duties are paid on imported products, then we can reliably say that imported products cannot compete with local products and win because pricing will be competitive; and that is a way of protecting the system without stepping on international toes,” he said.
He added that government’s ability to enable efficiency and lower cost of production depends on factors such as ability to produce raw materials locally and in large quantities – enough to meet industry requirements – with policy decisions, lower cost of power to industry by ensuring efficiency in the energy sector, and promoting large-scale production/manufacturing to meet market capacity.
He indicated that the Ghana-Togo border, for instance, is an entry point for several substandard textile products into the country. And with these textiles smuggled in without any duties or tariffs, and also imitating locally produced ones without any copyright implications, it is very difficult for the local textile manufacturers, for example, to compete on that front.
Touching on COVID-19 and how soon businesses can recover, he reiterated that a recent survey the AGI did showed that 68 percent of businesses believe that it would take over a year for them to recover from the dreadful toll the COVID-19 pandemic had on their business. This, he said, will be possible depending on the measures and policies put in place – as well as assistance given to the business ecosystem by government, including the aforementioned.