The Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF) has sounded the alarm bell regarding crucial challenges facing the freight forwarding industry in the country.
The organization has emphasized the need for immediate and resolute action to address these pressing issues, which include valuation challenges, SIGMAT issues, negative effects of the exemptions law, shipping line problems, and the complexities of navigating policies in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) world.
The Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, a leading professional body representing freight forwarders and other stakeholders in the industry, has expressed deep concerns over the impact of these challenges on the efficient operation and growth of the industry.
Valuation challenges have been identified as a major issue affecting the freight forwarding sector. Inaccurate or inconsistent valuation of goods can lead to discrepancies in customs duties and taxes, causing delays, disputes, and financial losses for importers and exporters. The Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders has stressed the importance of establishing a transparent and standardized valuation system to streamline operations and enhance trade facilitation.
“One of the foremost issues we face is that of valuation of goods by the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority. Although Valuation has been a sore point in doing business in the Ports, this has been further exacerbated by a recent imposition of a ‘reference price list’ for the valuation of goods by the Board of Directors of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA). We specifically make reference to a memo emanating from the Board and then to the Customs Division that “No discounts, variations or acceptance of values below the reference price list should be given on any item or product”. This directly contradicts international trade agreements, particularly those under the World Trade Organization (WTO),bTrade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).
As signatory to the WTO, Ghana is bound by principles that advocate for fair and transparent valuation processes.
The Customs ACT, 2015 (ACT 891) clearly and unequivocally states how valuation for goods should be done and what ought not be DONE, ” GIFF President, Eddy Akrong said at a press conference held in Tema.
SIGMAT issues have also been flagged as a significant concern. Inconsistent application of the SIGMAT system can result in confusion and complications during customs clearance processes. The organization has called for improved communication, training, and coordination among relevant agencies to ensure a consistent and efficient implementation of the SIGMAT system.
“A full implementation of the Interconnected System for the Management of Goods in Transit (SIGMAT), reminiscent of the Cargo Tracking Note (ECTN) which recently caused an uproar in the industry until it was branded fake news, raises serious concerns within our industry. The Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) discourages such practices that hinder the smooth flow of goods across borders. It is crucial to reassess and rectify policies that may inadvertently impede the efficiency of our logistics and supply chain operations.
We are reminded again as signatories to the WTOs Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) to avert our minds to:”
Furthermore, the negative effects of the exemptions law have been highlighted by the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders.
While exemptions are meant to promote specific sectors or activities, their misuse or misinterpretation can lead to unfair advantages, revenue losses, and distortions in the market. The organization has urged policymakers to review and refine the exemptions law to ensure it aligns with the broader goals of economic growth and fairness.
The freight forwarding industry in Ghana has also been grappling with shipping line issues, including erratic schedules, unreliable services, and high costs. These challenges not only hamper the smooth flow of goods but also impact the competitiveness of Ghanaian businesses in the global market. The Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders has called for increased collaboration between shipping lines and industry stakeholders to address these concerns and improve service quality.
Finally, the complexities of navigating policies in a VUCA world present a significant challenge for the freight forwarding industry.
Rapid changes in global trade dynamics, emerging technologies, and geopolitical uncertainties require adaptability and agility from industry players. The organization has emphasized the need for continuous training, capacity building, and the development of resilient strategies to cope with the volatile and dynamic business environment.
The concerns raised by the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders underscore the urgent need for proactive measures to address the critical issues affecting the industry. Stakeholders are urged to collaborate closely to find effective solutions that will enhance trade facilitation, streamline operations, and promote sustainable growth in the freight forwarding sector. Failure to take decisive action could have detrimental consequences for Ghana’s economy and its position in the global trade landscape.
According to the organization, urgent and decisive action is needed to address pressing challenges related to valuation challenges, SIGMAT issues, negative effects of the exemptions law, shipping line issues, and navigating policies in a VUCA world.
One of the key issues relates to the recent imposition of a ‘reference price list’ for the valuation of goods by the Board of Directors of the Ghana Revenue Authority.
This contradicts international trade agreements and adds to the high cost of doing business.
The organization has called for a collaborative approach between the government and industry stakeholders to formulate policies that promote the seamless flow of goods and foster economic growth for Ghana.
By Vincent Kubi