Dr Kofi Mbia, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA), has said there is the need for Ghana to speed up the implementation of the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET).
The ECOWAS CET is one of the instruments for harmonizing trade among ECOWAS member states by developing and strengthening its common market.
The decision to have a CET was taken at an extra-ordinary meeting of Conference of Heads of State and Governments of Economic Community of West African States held in Senegal in 2013.
Whilst some countries in the sub region started the implementation process in January 2015, Ghana started the process on February 1, 2016.
The CEO made the call at a three day training programme organised by the Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA) in collaboration with the Borderless Alliance, with support from the German International Cooperation, at Paga in the Kassena-Nankana West District of the Upper East Region.
The training programme attracted Border Town Operatives in the Region including customs officials, shippers, the private sector traders and other business associations drawn from the Paga border, the Namoo border and the Kulungugu border in the Region.
It was aimed at contributing to the effective implementation of the ECOWAS CET by strengthening the capacity of customs officials at the borders to understand the provisions of the ECOWAS CET.
It was also meant to raise awareness among the private sector and the cross border traders as well as the media with the overall objectives of ensuring transparent customs procedures, reducing border delays and facilitating intra-regional trade in the West Africa sub region.
Dr Kofi Mbia said his outfit viewed trade facilitation among thesShippers as very important as it helps in the improvement of transactions, reduces costs and saves time.
In view of that, the GSA over the years collaborated with the Customs, the Borderless Alliance and other key stakeholders in the trade and transport industry with the objective of improving business environment and to ensure that shippers in Ghana and the transit shippers remained very competitive in the international logistic chain, he said.
Dr Mbia said the implementation of the ECOWAS CET, would help promote a common tariff regime among member states as well as offer special protection measures aimed at addressing any trade imbalances across member states.
The CEO said a similar training programme would be organised for stakeholders at the Aflao border and allayed the fears of some Ghanaian traders that the ECOWAS CET might raise import tariffs of member states.
He gave the assurance that the harmonization of the tariff regime among member states would help address the issue and commended the Borderless Alliance, the German International Cooperation and the Ghana Revenue Authority for assisting the GSA to organize the programme.
Ms Afua Eshun, the Programme Advisor of the Borderless Alliance, said her outfit which is a regional advocacy organization and has a membership of eighty three private sector companies working in hand with public institutions, civil society organizations and the media in West Africa, shared the vision of ECOWAS - promoting the free movement of goods and persons in the sub region.
The Deputy Head of the Customers Technical Services Bureau, Seidu Yakubu , who served as the resource person took the participants through the ECOWAS CET, and stressed the need for effective collaboration and coordination among the stakeholders.