Stakeholders in the shipping business are calling for the removal of a US$200 levy charged on every consignment meant for export by the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).
They explained that such levy did not make it attractive for exporters from neighbouring landlocked countries to do business in Ghana, and as a result, dwindling fortunes from transit trade.
The total volume of transit goods shipped through the country's seaports decreased by 16.8 per cent to 900,763 tonnes last year.
The Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA), Mrs Sylvia Asana Dauda, told the Daily Graphic after a workshop on Tuesday (August 1) in Accra, that the export levy did not encourage neighbouring countries to do business in Ghana.
“Customs Division of the GRA has a policy of charging US$200 on any consignment that passes through our ports for export, therefore, assuming someone in Burkina Faso, Mali or Niger intends to use our corridor for export when the person in question brings the goods into the country, the goods are expected to be levied that goods US$200 per consignment.”
She observed that with such a policy in place, it did not make it attractive for exporters from neighbouring landlocked countries to transact business at Ghana’s ports.
“Though, countries such as Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, and Togo are competing immensely for transit trade,” Mrs Dauda said a preliminary study conducted by the GSA showed that neighbouring countries were making strides compared to Ghana in terms of transshipment.
This, she said, meant that neighbouring countries with ports such as Cote d’Ivoire and Togo had taken the right steps to enable them attract business from the landlocked countries within the West African sub-region.
“We believe that this levy, for example, is one of the major factors impeding Ghana’s quest for achieving competitive ports in the West African sub-region.”
A representative from the Borderless Alliance, Mr Ziad Hamoui, stated that the negative financial implication for the imposition of this levy on the exporter was grave to the promotion of trade in the country.
According to him, given that exporters pay a total estimate of over GH¢400 unauthorised fees and charges per each trip from Tema to Paga border, therefore, imposing a US$200 export levy on each consignment made it uncompetitive to attract neighbouring countries.
“I was very pleased when two months ago, I received a confirmation from my sources that the Custom Division of the GRA has looked into the US$200 export levy and determined that indeed the levy was impeding trade and it would subsequently be scrubbed,” he said.
GSA mounts pressure
For her part, the CEO of the GSA, Ms Benonita Bismarck, stated that the removal of the levy had been as issue the authority and other stakeholders had been advocating for over the years.
She said the authority would continue to support and collaborate with other stakeholders to provide an appropriate platform that enabled shippers to meet service providers in order to find answers to issues of concern that might be plaguing the trade and transport industries.
“Mandate is to protect and promote the interest of shippers which we carry out through several strategies such as stakeholder engagements and collaborations, capacity building for our shippers and sensitisation and education of stakeholders like we are witnessing here today,” she added.