Unconsolidated Trade-related Charges Increasing Unofficial Payments At Ports – USAID

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has revealed, in a new study conducted on trading in Ghana that, the lack of a consolidated list of trade-related fees and charges continues to increase the unofficial payments at the country’s ports.

The study “The Cost of Trading in Ghana” launched at the monthly luncheon of the American Chamber of Commerce forms part of the country’s efforts to comply with benchmark guidelines outlined in the World Trade Organisation (WTO’s) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).

The USAID study stated that nearly all fees and charges are established based on Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF) values and do not reflect the real cost of providing services. Therefore fees established using ad valorem are driving up the cost of trading in Ghana.

It further notes that currently all importers pay fees that amount to 6.25 percent of the value of their goods with average payments of unofficial fess per consignment on imports being GHS250 as well as GHS200 and GHS125 for exports and transit respectively.

This study comes after the government’s decision to cut import taxes with the scrapping of the special import levy, raw materials and spare parts among others.

Speaking at the event in Accra, U.S Ambassador to Ghana, Robert Jackson stated that “contrary to what many believe, rationalizing and reducing ports and customs fees and charges does not necessarily mean lost revenue but rather it is attractive for businesses and facilitates increased trade”, adding that the implementation of the TFA would also foster increased economic growth in Ghana.

He also noted that the extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) through 2025 would provide Ghana and other African nations the opportunity to bolster their export markets, taking full advantage of American consumer demands.

Ghana became the 95th country to ratify the TFA, which is the first multilateral deal concluded in the WTO’s 22 year history.

The agreement contains provision for expediting the movement, release, and clearance of goods because the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates that implementing the TFA could reduce worldwide trade costs by as much as 17.5 percent, with the greatest benefits accruing to African and other developing countries.

The Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta in a speech read on his behalf said the country is going to review its fees and charges with a view to reducing their number and diversity.

He added that “the Ministry has taken note of the challenges that are likely to impede the seamless implementation of all the aspects of the TFA including the rationalization of fees and charges being imposed at the ports by MDAs, some of which are not directly under the control of the ministry.”

However a fine balance must be maintained because some government agencies depend on such fees to provide services statutorily required of them.