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Business News of Friday, 9 November 2012

Source: B&FT

Lack of industrial data worrying

The Tariff Advisory Board (TAB) has raised concern over the unavailability of relevant data on the operations of industries in the country.

The country’s industrial community which is mainly dominated by those in the private sector lacks data on their operations, a major challenge that TAB says impedes efforts in assessing the country’s industrial performance as well as collating and analyzing information and data to guide decisions on tariff-related issues.

It also emerged that there is no clear institutional framework to assess the impact of tariff policy on competitiveness of industries; no clear guidelines, procedure and appropriate legislation for the determination and implementation of trade contingency measures (anti-dumping and countervailing duties) to respond to private sector petitions; and weak capacity in both public and private sectors to generate the depth of analysis required for substantiating claims, consistent with international trade rules, which also grant rights of response to unfair trade practices based on appropriate legislation.

The challenges highlighted by the Tariff Advisory Board are understood to render the country incapable of taking advantage of and fully exercising the rights granted under international trade rules to ensure a level playing field for domestic industries.

This subject matter dominated discussions at a training programme organised for Private Sector Operators and representatives of MDAs in Kumasi by the Tariff Advisory Board under the auspices of the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

The Chairman of the Tariff Advisory Board, Mr. Tawiah Akyea, strongly underscored the need for domestic manufacturing industries to build a detailed and accurate database, based on which TAB would be able to effectively execute some of its functions -- of investigating petitions brought before the Board in relation to unfair trade practices or tariff-related issues.

The Tariff Advisory Board was set up as part of the key policy action recommended by the Ghana Trade Policy to strengthen institutional arrangements for tariff review and determination of trade contingency measures.

TAB is expected to be migrated into operation as a full-fledged Ghana International Trade Commission (GITC) with research, monitoring, advisory and adjudicatory functions based on merit and advice of the appointing authority, the Minister of Trade and Industry, after being in operation for about three years.

Indications are that preparations are far advanced for the legislative proposal that will lead to establishment of GITC to reach Cabinet for approval and subsequently go through the laid-down procedure for lawmaking.

Mr. Robert A. K. Nketiah, AGI Regional Chairman for Ashanti and Brong Ahafo and an entrepreneur, was very optimistic that participants will strongly consider the concerns being raised by TAB and pledged to use his position to educate and counsel members of AGI on the position of TAB regarding their activities.

He however at some point of the programme made a strong case against the exclusion of presentations from industrial organisations on the Tariff Advisory Board -- which prompted members of the Board to take turns clarifying the issue.

Participants from the Ghana Chamber of Commerce, Customs Exercise and Preventive Service of the Ghana Revenue Service and other organisations used the forum to seek clarification on some key issues which came up as part of the presentations by the TAB, and also made some significant recommendations to it.

The Board made brief comments on the number of petitions dealt with and some major setbacks encountered as part of its operations.

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