The trade ministry in Ghana is reported to have reaffirmed its plans to proceed with the implementation of the Ghana Conformity Assessment Programme ( G-CAP) which is meant to subject all imports into the country to a pre-shipment inspection at the port or country of origin to ensure that goods destined for the country conforms with the Ghana Standard Authority’s requirements.
The Ghana Standards Authority through the trade ministry initially announced the implementation of this policy somewhere last year , however stiff opposition from trade associations and other stakeholders who felt this might affect the smooth flow of trade forced the GSA to hold on to its earlier implementation until proper consultation and education was done.
The G-CAP which the Ghana Standard Authority intends to use to check and prevent the importation of sub standard goods into the country is also seen by the trade associations to only be a duplication of a function already performed by the various Destination Inspection Companies in the country and hence would generate an extra cost.
Should the G-CAP be implemented as reports suggests, then shippers (importers) would have to make their goods available for inspection at the country of origin by the authority’s service provider Societe Generale De Surveillance (SGS). A certificate of conformity would then be issued to an importer whose goods meet the criteria set and a copy sent to the GSA in advance before the goods arrive here in the country. A non-conformity report is however issued for goods that do not meet the specified requirements by the GSA hence barring traders from bringing such goods into the country.
The aim of this policy seem very laudable, however with a country whose ports already face the challenge of multiple government agencies involved in the clearing process which most often leads to duplication of functions, having such a policy may seem yet another duplicated function which is already taken care of by the destination inspection scheme presently.
Just a little over a decade ago. The country launched the Ghana Gateway Project (GGWP) which was to spearhead the country’s efforts in positioning the ports as gateways into the sub-region among other things. One major achievement of the post GGWP era of the ports was the adoption of the Destination Inspection Scheme (DIS). Prior to this, the country had over the past years operated a pre‐shipment inspection scheme which made the clearing process cumbersome.
The (DIS) thus facilitated the fast clearance of goods as compared to previous years and ensured that appropriate duties were paid on imported goods. The ‘re’ introduction of the G-CAP would therefore make one wonder the rationale in abolishing the pre-shipment inspection scheme in the first place as both have the same modus operandi , in other words isn’t the functions of both the G-CAP and the DIS homogenous?, since the current DIS (Destination Inspection Scheme) also aims at checking sub standard goods.
Indeed Mr John Awuni, a member of the Food and Beverages Association of Ghana mentioned that “Ghana is already practicing product conformity assessment under the destination Inspection Regime… And therefore introducing G-CAP will rather retard the current orderly progress in Ghana’s trade and business conformity laws.”
From another point of view, the new inspection policy G-CAP would help the country get rid of sub-standard goods as some importers uses the country as a dumping groundfor sub-standard goods. These sub standard goods once they have entered the country becomes very difficult to nearly impossible to be taken out of the country even if declared sub- standard after going through the destination inspection process. The question would however remain that how do these inferior goods get into the country in the first place since the standard authority is represented at all the country’s entry points.
Furthermore , this policy could also help a trader save on some cost as he or she would know exactly if the intended goods would be accepted or not saving on potential freight, insurance and other charges and ultimately prevent the risk of confiscation of goods once arrived and declared sub-standard here.
In the nutshell, The nation would have to wait patiently to judge the impact of this new policy, reports has it that while Ghana is ranked 67th in the World in terms of imports and exports practices, countries such as Ethiopia and Kenya that were practicing G-CAP were ranked 125th and 129th in the world respectively with other countries as Burundi, Uganda, Nigeria etc that were practicing G-CAP, and yet were languishing between 135th and 153rd in the world ranking .
To conclude, with the GSA’s determination through the trade ministry to go ahead with the implementation of this policy its relevance or otherwise would have to be closely monitored.
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