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ECOWAS Rules Reduce tariffs now - importers tell Gov't

" We are petitioning the Ministry of Trade, the Chief of Staff, and the even the ECOWAS Parliament on Ghana's need to fully comply with the ECOWAS Single Tariff Regime."

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The  Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana are agitating over government's reluctance to comply with dictates of the ECOWAS Common Tariffs.

In an exclusive interview with Pulse Business,  the executive director of the Importers and Exporters Association, Samson Awingobite said the implementation of the ECOWAS tariffs means that some of Ghana's custom duties must be reduced while others must be removed completely.

" We are petitioning the Ministry of Trade, the Chief of Staff, and the even the ECOWAS Parliament on Ghana's need to fully comply with the ECOWAS Common Tariff Regime."

The Ghana Union of Traders Association- GUTA in collaboration with the Importers and Exporters Association identified the 0% import duty on Pharmaceutical products, 0% on social goods, 5% on Raw Materials for production, 10% on materials for polishing , 20% for consumer products like TV sets,  10% for rice imports, and  35% for agricultural and tomato based produce as well as cosmetics.

Samson Awingobite tells Pulse Business that the government is not respecting and abiding by the negotiated tariffs as agreed upon by the ECOWAS Parliament.

" Whereas the ECOWAS Common Tariff Regime stipulates a 10% import duty  on rice, Ghana is charging 20%. It must be a flat 10% in accordance to the stipulations."

Again, the Executive Director of the association also sees the need for a drastic reconsideration of the country's import tax levies if Ghana is to be at par with her Francophone counterparts who charge relatively cheaper rates.

" Our Francophone counterparts like the Ivorians do not charge levies like the National Health Insurance Levy and the Value Added Tax as part of their import charges. This means that government will have to streamline those charges charges too."

Apparently, government's refusal to streamline these charges after the country is opened up to these West African Countries,  will mean that the Ghanaian market will be flooded with cheaper imports from Cote d'ivoire and other neighbouring countries, killing the operations local businesses.

Additionally, government is likely to loose revenues  as importers are likely to clear their goods through the ports of counterpart West African Countries with cheaper import duties, according to Mr. Awingobite.

" Ghana's higher import duty regime coupled with higher cost of credit and doing business will ensure that Ghanaian importers will prefer clearing their goods through neighbouring countries rather than through Ghana. This will deprive the country of much needed funds for development." he stressed.

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