The Government of Ghana intends to implement the First Port Duty Rule at Ghana’s ports in order to tackle smuggling arising from diverted transit goods supposedly meant for landlocked countries such as Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.
Studies have shown that many of such goods are either unloaded and sold inside Ghana or sent through unapproved routes to the said destinations, thereby depriving both Ghana and the eventual destination the necessary revenue.
Under the First Port Duty Rule, Customs officials of the landlocked nations will be stationed at Ghana’s ports, and the importer will be directed to the appropriate country desk to pay if indeed it is a transit good.
Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, announced the measure when he gave the keynote address at the 39th Council and Conference of the Ports Management Association of West and Central Africa (PMAWCA) in Accra on Monday 30th July, 2018.
Addressing the participants, which included Directors of ports in 15 West and Central African countries as well representatives from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and other key stakeholders, Vice President Bawumia bemoaned the high level of corruption dogging the transit trade.
“So much smuggling is taking place through “transit” trade to neighboring countries such as Togo, Burkina, Niger and Mali. Not only does Ghana lose, the other countries also lose revenue when unapproved routes are used for example.
“For the most part, the goods never leave Ghana. Ghana will therefore be introducing the First Port Duty Rule hopefully before the end of the year. Under this rule, the customs authorities of our neighboring countries will have presence at our port.
“So if an importer claims they are going to Mali or Burkina Faso, they just go to the Malian or Burkina desks and pay their duties,” Vice President Bawumia explained.
The Vice President underscored Ghana’s commitment to improving its trade relations with its neighbors particularly, those in the landlocked nations of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, with a series of Trade Missions to these countries to strengthen ties and demonstrate Ghana’s commitment to making her corridors and the ports friendly for their patronage.
Vice President Bawumia urged the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to effectively ensure the enforcement of the implementation of the axle load policy, which mandates all member countries to limit a 6-axle truck to a 60-tonne loading capacity in order to prevent the destruction of roads.
“As you may be aware, Ghana has consistently complied with and implemented this loading policy since 2009 when the enforcement came into effect. The goal is to protect the roads infrastructure in our sub-region. Unfortunately, it has been reported that not all ECOWAS member countries are complying with this policy. This undermines regional cooperation and creates an atmosphere of unfairness in transit trade on the various corridors in the sub-region.”
“Ghana,” he added, “is committed to improving its ports and road corridors to enhance international trade with its trading partners. We are therefore open to the best examples and recommendations towards achieving these goals.”
By Adu Koranteng