Eliminating non-tariff barriers: Customs embark on study to improve time of clearing goods at ports

  Principal Revenue Officer, Policy and Programmes unit, Customs, GRA, Diana Ayorkor Agbenyega

The Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has revealed that it is conducting a study that would ascertain the average time of clearing goods at the ports of Ghana.

This time release study is part of GRA’s strategic actions to enhance administrative efficiency.

It also aligns with Ghana’s commitment to the Trade Facilitation Agreements at the international level.

Speaking on Eye on Port, Principal Revenue Officer at the Policy and Programmes Unit at Customs Division of the GRA, Diana Ayorkor Agbenyega, said the study will begin in June 2022 and is expected to be completed by January 2023, even though preliminary engagements started last year.

The Principal Revenue Officer said the study will cover the Tema Collection, the Kotoka International Airport, the Paga and Aflao Collections for a well-represented sample size.

She said customs authorities around the world are being encouraged to simplify processes and expedite trade by saving time and money.

“The Trade Facilitation Agreements are all about eliminating non-tariff barriers to trade. It is estimated that non-tariff barriers are about 214% of trade cost, which is alarming. These trade barriers are what we call red tapes, and these red tapes are what we intend to eliminate. In line with the TFA, we are embarking on simplification, harmonisation, transparency and modernisation of our systems. When your processes are simplified and transparent, more investments come in, trade volumes increase and more taxes are collected.”  

As such, measures have been instituted for customs authorities to implement to achieve the trade facilitation objectives.

She said the Revised Kyoto Convention, which Ghana is a signatory to, requires all customs authorities to enhance processes toward the simplification, harmonisation and predictability of systems.

The customs official indicated that although customs can give a fair estimate of the average time of clearance at the ports, the trade facilitation agreements acceded to requires them to publish results using scientific processes.

Diana Ayorkor Agbenyega said, “The recommended and approved tool for customs administrations is the World Customs Organisation Time Release Study (WCO TRS) Tool across the world, and that is what we want to use to undertake the study so we can officially publish it based on empirical evidence, so it can be recognised internationally.”

She explained that this study will also fish out the operational inefficiencies which are not associated with the Integrated Customs Management System.

“For example, how long it will take for the lab to take samples and provide analysis on a product. The study will be interested in that.”

Diana Ayorkor Agbenyega emphasised that the study will not be limited to customs processes but will examine the entire clearance chain.

The study will be funded by the USAID and GIZ, with technical assistance from the World Customs Organisation.


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