The Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has asked its officers to adjust freight rates – the amount paid to a goods carrier – upward at the country’s port on goods imported from Asia due to rising freight rates on the continent.
In a letter cited by the B&FT, signed by the Assistant Commissioner, Annabella Peprah-Foli of the Customs Technical Services Bureau (CTSB), officers were directed to strictly comply with the directive until further notice.
“It has been observed and verified that freight rates from Asia have increased astronomically. Freight rates applied to imports from Asia are therefore to be adjusted as follows: 20-footer container at least US$3000 – 40-footer container at least US$5000-Refrigerated container US$8000,” the letter stated.
This would mean that duties at the port would go up as the freight rate is key in calculating duties on goods imported into the country.
The Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF) has described the move by Customs as unfair as the reason for the escalating freight charges in Asia is known to be artificial, and that, it would not stay high by the end of the year.
The President of GIFF, Edward Akrong, admits that importers are now paying more than double the amount they paid for freight pre-COVID-19 as a global shortage of shipping containers has drastically shot up the cost of moving goods from various parts of the world to the country.
He noted that, transporting a 20-footer container from the point of origin to the nation’s ports now costs the importer about US$6,000 from US$2,400 pre-COVID-19. Adding that, Freight charge for a 40-footer container has more than doubled to between US$10,000 and US$13,000 from the previous rate of US$4,400.
“The scarcity of shipping boxes or containers is what has led to this and as time goes on the empty container would find their way to Asia and the freight rates would come down. It would happen sooner than later. If the GRA want to use this a base to increase freight it is not fair because if the freight charges come down the possibility that the freight rate here would go down is little,” Mr. Akrong said.
The Ghana Union of Traders Association is equally worried. Its President, Dr. Joseph Obeng said, if the rate stands, it would mean goods on the market which are said to be already on the high would further escalate. It is his fear that a lot of his members could go out of business should GRA Customs decide to use the new rates in Asia to calculate duties on imports.
“The increase in freight has nothing to do with the quantity of goods in the container. Customs is aware of our situation, and we would be happy if they stick to the old rate because the high cost of freight in Asia has already pushed the cost of goods up therefore if the GRA go ahead it would be very challenging,” Dr. Obeng said.