Business News of 2014-08-26

Shippers’ Authority, Stakeholders meet on issues hampering Int'l trade

The Ghana Shippers’ Authority last week held a stakeholder consultative meeting for players in the logistics chain to discuss and proffer solutions to burning issues that tend to hamper the smooth flow of international trade, primarily import and export.

Prominent among the issues discussed was the recent directive by the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority on the pre-funding of electricity bills for plugging-in reefer containers at both the Tema and Takoradi Ports effective 1st August 2014.

Other issues discussed at the meeting also centred on matters relating to permits for the importation and clearing of reefer containers, permits for the importation and clearing of chemicals, permits with respect to the import and export of plants and animals and their clearance from the port and land borders, protection of public health and trade facilitation as well as the issue of overstayed containers at the port.

Drawing participation from the Ministry of trade, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Veterinary services Department, Food and Drugs Authority, Ghana Standards Authority, The Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority and the Ghana Port and Harbours Authority, the meeting saw various presentations from all these state agencies and also provided a platform for the participants to ask questions on matters bothering their operations.

In his welcome address, deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Shippers’ Authority, Mr. Emmanuel Martey, noted that it was imperative for ministries, departments and agencies, as well as shipping lines and clearing agents to collaborate to allow for quick clearance of goods and for effective trade facilitation, stressing that the Ghana Shippers Authority will continue to educate shippers on issues pertaining to reefer in the ports.

According to him, the issuance of permits, validity of the permit, the clearance process, overstayed and uncleared containers that continue to be plugged-in and consume electricity including the monitoring of the reefer containers at the required temperatures was also a matter of concern to the Authority and shippers in general.

"Unclaimed and uncleared cargos become an issue to the port as they occupy space, consume electricity and generally add to congestion inside the port,’’ he said.

Of concern to the Authority is the duration of three months given to importers of frozen foods to order their goods, ship and clear them within this period and questioned whether the time was sufficient.

"Going forward, we expect to have an industry that allows people to sit in the comfort of their offices, conduct all import transactions and wait for cargo to be delivered to them without the need for their physical presence at the port,’’ he opined.

Director of trade facilitation at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Patrick Poku announced that the ministry was in the process of deploying more scanners in the ports to help quicken the clearance of cargo from the ports whiles dealing with the challenge of congestion.

According to him, plans were also advanced for applications and approvals for exemptions to be done online through the Ghana Community Network, (GcNet) platform via the Ghana Customs Management System (GCMS).

Mr. Poku further reiterated the commitment of the Ministry to ensure that processes relating to the clearance of goods from the ports and points of entry are streamlined to ease business transactions and reduce to the barest minimum, the time and cost of doing business in Ghana, especially at the ports.

Source: Maritime & Transport Digest
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