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Business News of Tuesday, 7 June 2016


Private sector wants trade agreement ratified

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)-led coalition for trade facilitation has called for the immediate ratification and implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) to boost trade.

According to the Coalition, the ratification and implementation of the TFA will also increase revenue in the country and reduce trade transaction costs.

Emmanuel Doni-Kwame, Secretary General of ICC, Ghana, who made the call when speaking on Business Advocacy programme on GTV, said currently the TFA which has been put into a Cabinet memo, is currently before the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah and would be forwarded to Parliament for ratification and implementation.

Trade Facilitation Agreement

The Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), which was drafted at the World Trade Organization’s 9th Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia, in December 2013, aims at reducing the time and cost of international trade.

Since then, WTO members have undertaken a legal review of the text.

In line with the decision adopted in Bali, WTO members on 27 November 2014 adopted a Protocol of Amendment.

The TFA will enter into force once two-thirds of WTO’s 162 members have completed their domestic ratification process.

As at March 2016, out of the 80 WTO Members that had ratified, only seven of them, excluding Ghana, were from Africa out of a total of 40 African WTO members.

Why Ghana Must Ratify

Mr Doni-Kwame, who explained why Ghana must ratify and implement the trade facilitation agreement said, “The issues that culminated in the drafting of the agreement have to do with issues that confront us on a daily basis. These issues are prevalent in developing countries, especially ours.

“And these have to do with the uncertainties that we all encounter when we are moving goods across borders-the delays and these also affect our predictability and add on to transaction costs at our ports or transit ports.

“So, the TFA is for everybody, not just importers or exporters. It is for every single business entity.

He said the TFA sets out measures for effective cooperation between customs and other appropriate authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues. It further contains provisions for technical assistance.

Valentina Mintah, Chief Executive of West Blue Consulting, who was contributing to the discussion, reiterated that the TFA, when ratified and implemented, could further boost trade facilitation and increase revenue in the country.

Possible Sanctions

“Now, if you look at the agreement that came into force in December 2013, once you have two-thirds of the members of the WTO ratifying, it comes into full force.

That means there is going to be implications, sanctions for those countries who do not comply to that particular agreement.” As at the end of March, 80 countries had ratified the agreement.