The Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority has responded to the call by the trading public for increased sensitization on the protocols regarding the new African Continental Free Trade Area, which is intended to begin full implementation in January 2021.
The African Continental Free Trade Area is intended to create a single continental market for goods and services as they move freely within the continent.
Speaking on the Eye on Port program on Understanding Protocols on Trade in Goods in the AfCFTA, Chief Revenue Officer of the Customs Technical Services Bureau, Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, Fechin Akoto, admitted on the need for an aggressive educational campaign not only for traders but all security agencies relevant to trade across borders.
“There’s the need for serious education where other security agencies will be aware that for example AfCFTA goods enjoy some of these protocols. So once a security man sees an AfCFTA vehicle, they don’t create impediments for them so that they are able to move freely,” he said.
He stated that by January 2021, customs would have significantly educated the trading public, its officers, as well as all stakeholders on the dynamics of the AfCFTA.
“We have even started a program to sensitize our officers. They have to know the rules. Especially the product specific rules which cover the whole tariffs. Fortunately, the African Union is developing a manual, that would guide the use of the product specific rules,” he disclosed.
Fechin Akoto, revealed that Customs have developed a strategy that would ensure that all impediments to trade are removed during the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
“Under the trade in goods, we have a number of annexes that experts have been looking at to make sure that the trade in goods become successful,” he stated.
According to him, this is further boosted by the establishment of an online help centre dedicated to the AfCFTA, which would address and resolve challenges any trader would face at the borders.
“There is even a site that has been launched where when you are facing any challenges at any frontier, you can just go to the site and lodge a complaint. Every country is supposed to have a contact person, who should be monitoring that site, so that immediately complaints are lodged you quickly send them to the appropriate sectors, for a solution.”
He also revealed that, a technical group is currently working towards ensuring uniform standards are applied across the continent within the AfCFTA.
Fechin Akoto also recounted the measures Customs are taking to address issues regarding the transit trade.
“The issue of transit of goods among African countries is also very paramount. So we have developed a whole annex on the transit of goods that prescribes for example, how we should register vehicles for transit,” he elaborated.