'Trade Facilitation Agreement will ease cross-border challenges'
Ghana’s quest to speed up the ratification of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) would help address the numerous cross-border challenges faced by traders, Mr Emmanuel Doni-Kwame, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce has said.
Mr Doni-Kwame, also the Managing Director of World Trade Centre, Accra, said a holistic and efficient implementation of the agreement would help in reducing trade transaction costs and unnecessary delays across trade borders.
He was speaking during a panel discussion in Accra on the Ghana Journalists Association programme dubbed: “Business Advocate” on Ghana Television, which is supported by BUSAC Fund, DANIDA, United States Agency for International Development and the European Union.
The topic for discussion was: “How far has Ghana gone with Ratification of the Trade Facilitation Agreement?”.
Mr Doni-Kwame noted that the agreement when ratified could help lower trade costs and ease customs cooperation for member countries, as well as generate more trade and investment globally, since goods delayed at the country's borders raises costs of businesses that are often passed on to consumers.
TFA is the simplification and harmonization of international trade procedures and the formalities involved in collecting, presenting and processing data required for the movement of goods in international trade.
In December 2013, members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) concluded negotiations on a Trade Facilitation Agreement on the Indonesian island and province called ‘Bali’. The agreement at the Bali Ministerial Conference came as part of a wider “Bali Package”.
The agreement would enter into force once two-thirds of WTO’s 162 members have completed their domestic ratification process. As of March 2016, out of the 65 WTO Members that had ratified, only seven of them, excluding Ghana, were from Africa out of a total of 40 African WTO Members.
Mr Doni-Kwame was of the view that, the ratification of the agreement would impact on the country's economic growth within the context of globalization and enhance an efficient logistics chain and impact trading relationships.
Mr. Doni-Kwame explained that trade facilitation is aimed at simplifying not only the documentation required to clear goods, but also the procedures employed by border agencies, and that focusing on the biggest risks allowed border agencies to speed up the flow of goods across the border, and increases the collection of duties.
Mr Joseph Agbaga, immediate-past President of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders said trade facilitation required efforts of all stakeholders to ensure an effective and resilient system of operation.
Ms Valentina Mintah, Chief Executive Officer of West Blue, Operators of the Single Window at the Port urged government to speed up the ratification agreement to ensure that the country’s exports remained competitive and relevant.
She said the country had played a central role in trade facilitation and that it was imperative to ensure the ratification of the agreement.