The Ghana Revenue Authority is set to ramp up the issuance of certificates of origin to exporting firms in the country.
This comes after government designated the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) as the Competent Authority for the issuance of Rules of Origin Certificate under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Rules of origin are a “passport” enabling goods to circulate duty-free within a free trade area (FTA) as long as these goods qualify as originating within the FTA.
This mandates the Customs Division to assess the criteria that must be met for a product to be considered as having its origin in an exporting country within the FTA and qualify for preferential treatment (zero import tariffs) inside the FTA.
Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Alan Kyerematen speaking at the Business Forum on the Start of AfCFTA in Ghana: Implementation Arrangements said this forms part of several measures put in place by government to ensure that local businesses enjoy the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement.
“We are also aware that the contribution of the government alone could not guarantee the success of the AfCFTA. Our focus should also ensuring that micro small medium enterprises also take advantage of the programme,” he said.
Commissioner of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, Colonel Kojo Damoah Rtd also explained the significance of the development.
“We will have to give approval and say that, indeed going by the rules, we have various annexes and appendices that determine the rules of the game and the processes and procedures that one has to follow. First and foremost, if you are going to certify that this product is coming from a member country or state party, then you must look at the whole product and ensure that it is wholly obtained from this member state party.
If it can be determined that indeed every thing about that product was made in a state party, then the certificate is issued but then, there must be an authority that will be tasked with that responsibility and that is what has been conferred on Ghana Customs,” he said.
He further noted that “because most of them are going to be done electronically there is that synchronization. For instance, using the ICUMS which is single window platform and end to end process, even though we are saying that one must obtain certain things that we are not going to be physically moving, everything will be done digitally,” he added.
Mr Kwaku Nsiah Mensuoh, Chief Operation Manger, Trade Africa Online, speaking on “Opportunities for AfCFTA Trading for SMEs in Ghana using e-Commerce” said there were three factors that could contribute significantly to increased trade on the continent.
These are market information, connecting buyers to sellers and logistics and distribution management.
He said whiles it was possible to address all three factors through physical activities, it was generally acknowledged that e-commerce provided a more effective cost-efficient ways of addressing the above factors.
“This explains why e-commerce is gradually taking over from physical commerce,” he said.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a free trade area founded in 2018. Trading commenced under the AfCFTA on January 1, 2021.
The free-trade area is the largest in the world in terms of the number of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organization.
The agreement was brokered by the AU and was signed on by 44 of its 55 member states in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, 2018.
The agreement initially requires members to remove 90 per cent tariffs from goods, allowing free access to commodities, goods, and services across the continent.