29 September 2016

Forum on ratification of WTO’s trade facilitation agreement held

wtoA forum on ratification of World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) trade facilitation agreement focusing on making cross-border trade easier for Ghanaian businesses has been held in Accra.

The WTO’s trade facilitation agreement provides a unique opportunity to promote inclusive growth by making cross-border trade easier, quicker and less costly for businesses of all sizes.

The agreement includes provisions for lowering import tariffs and agriculture subsidies making it easier for developing countries to trade with the developed world in global markets.

Commissioner General of the Ghana Revenue authority, George Blankson said the trade facilitation agreement is the WTO’s first ever multilateral accord that aims to simplify customs regulations for the cross-border movement of goods.

He stated that facilitating trade and modernizing customs procedures are essential for increasing prosperity for all in Ghana and the ECOWAS sub region.

With the adoption of appropriate boarder managements and trade reforms, he said trade volume increases driving up with it revenue from duties and taxes from trade.

The agreement, according to George Blankson also provides for reduction in red tape at the international borders by reforming customs bureaucracies and formalities.

“Bottlenecks along trade routes are some of the most stubborn obstacles to economic growth and development in West Africa. Perishable goods go to waste at the borders. Trucks carrying cargo spend over two thirds of their time just sitting idle, wasting resources and contributing to environmental degradation,” he said.

Ghana’s ratification of the TFA, he noted will give a significant boost to ongoing reforms towards simplification and enhanced transparency in cross border in goods.

He said key among the trade facilitation measures instituted over the past two years are infrastructure at the Port of Tema, the National Single Window project and the submission of import declaration form online.

“It is imperative therefore, for Ghana to ratify the Trade Facilitation Agreement to give fillip to the trade facilitation effort being pursued. Facilitation trade and modernizing customs procedures are essential for increasing prosperity for all in Ghana and the ECOWAS sub-region at large,” he stressed.

The Vice President of the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation, Donia Hammami said Ghana economy stands to benefit immensely from the Trade facilitation agreement.

“I think especially when you look at the ECOWAS region, the sad reality is that the cost of trading here is three times higher to trade in the region than is actually to trade externally taking into consideration the charges and waiting times.

So not only will countries like Ghana actually get a bigger share of trade extension, it will also diversify their economies in terms of products both exported and market reach,” she said.


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