The Ministry of Trade and Industry, in collaboration with Ghana Community Network Services Ltd (GCNet) will from April, 2016 implement an annual trade facilitation awards scheme aimed primarily at promoting an enhanced trade facilitation regime in Ghana and at encouraging actors in the trade facilitation services sector to render first class efficient and transparent services.
Trade facilitation has emerged as a key factor for international trade efficiency and the economic development of countries including Ghana. This is due to its impact on competitiveness and market integration and its increasing importance in attracting direct foreign investments. International trade has increased and manufacturing has become more global, with developing, emerging and transition economies connecting with international supply and value chains in terms of both their exports and imports.
The worldwide distribution and sourcing cycles, along with just-in-time and just-in-sequence logistics services and the emergence of e-business, has made it imperative for the Government of Ghana to ensure efficient, fast and reliable border crossing and clearance procedures, and hence the need to have a holistic approach for a more efficient management of end-to-end trade transactions.
In Ghana, by means of a single point contact, via the e-MDA portal deployed by GCNet, thirty eight (38) Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) involved in trade, customs, cross border clearances, regulatory processes and payments have been connected to the deployed system. This enables them to access data, process payments, issue licenses, permits and exemptions electronically in exercise of their regulatory functions. Various private sector entities such as shippers, freight forwarders, importers and exporters are able to use the deployed systems eg. Ghana Integrated Cargo Clearance System to undertake their trade related transactions.
Private sector companies are also able to register their companies via the e-register, file or pay for their taxes via the TRIPS system, apply for foreign exchange etc all within the framework of a unique single entry platform achieved through the electronic interfacing of the various systems deployed by GCNet.
Despite the high level of deployment of electronic systems, the real mark of a seamless and efficient trade facilitation system lies in the attainment of set targets of high compliance and efficiency with minimal adverse influence of the human factor.
The lack of transparency about rules and regulations, redundant and lengthy approval processes, and multiple document requirements in different formats and with different data elements and undue human delays in transaction processing increases the costs and time of doing trade. Today these obstacles are seen as posing greater barriers to trade than tariffs and quotas do. Hence, it is more important than ever to achieve trade facilitation targets to enhance administrative efficiency and effectiveness, reduce costs and time to markets, and increase predictability in global trade.
The annual Trade Facilitation Awards Scheme has been designed as a competitive barometer that would spur on the trade facilitation actors to achieve excellence in efficient service provision.
There are great potential gains from enhanced trade facilitation for both Government and the business community.
• A more efficient and transparent delivery of public services will allow the administration to maintain high security levels and effective Government control, while diminishing opportunities for corruption.
• Public entities will profit in terms of enhanced trade tax collection, better use of resources and increased trader compliance.
• Traders will gain in terms of higher predictability and speed of operations and lower transaction costs, resulting in more competitive exports on global markets.
• For Ghana as a whole, reducing unnecessary delays and costs would contribute to attract investments, and supports growth and job creation.
The Ghana Trade Facilitation Awards scheme will select awardees from the full spectrum of trade facilitation services, including freight forwarding and customs house agency, MDA regulatory services, shipping and related services, port services, etc.
The maiden 2016 awards was based on actual performances and achievements in 2015 and focused on criteria such as compliance to set rules, revenue generation, time to completion of document processing and actual release of documents, transaction volumes etc. An assessment system and full details of selection criteria was contained in a separate paper that was introduced to the appraisal and selection committee established in the month of April 2016. The commencement of work by the selection committee would be preceded by a series of consultations with the main stakeholders in the trade facilitation sector to ensure an all-encompassing buy-in and an all-inclusive formulation and adoption of selection criteria. The maiden event is expected to take place in June 2016 in Accra. Subsequent events would take place during the first quarter, using data from the preceding year.
In 2017, the process has been enhanced to include a wider category of nominees for awards while expanding the criteria to encourage best international corporate practices.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry wishes to assure its partners of its commitment to work towards the achievement of excellence in Trade Facilitation in Ghana and would like to express its readiness to work with all stakeholders towards attainment of this noble objective.