The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has commended Ghana for its progress in trade facilitation. According to the UNCTAD, Ghana's experience as a trailblazer in trade facilitation could serve as a model for the region.
The UNCTAD Secretary General, Dr Mukhisa Kituyi, made this known during the Ghana National Conference on the Single Window and the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement organised by West Blue Consulting in Accra recently.
Ghana is one of the frontrunners in the region, implementing the single window system, spearheaded by West Blue Consulting, in collaboration with the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).
Dr Kituyi said the implementation of trade facilitation reforms, including areas such as the single window, was key to strengthening regional integration in Africa and was in itself an inescapable must-have for the continent's efforts to boost intra-African trade, increase productive capacities and structural transformation for sustainable development.
"An efficient and effective customs administration is at the heart of any trade facilitation reform. I commend Ghana for its progress on trade facilitation," he said in a write-up on the website of UNCTAD.
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Dr Kituyi also called for the sharing of regional experiences and highlighted the value in learning from the ECOWAS case.
"As has been seen in East and Southern Africa, the top down approach could only go so far,” Dr Kituyi said and added that "bottom-up efforts and national leadership, particularly in cooperation with the private sector, are needed and go much farther in driving a meaningful locally owned regional integration agenda."
Ghana is one of the original signatories to the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, which came into force recently.
The WTO estimates that the agreement will generate more than a trillion dollars in benefits annually and that the majority of those benefits will accrue to developing economies.
Phase II of Ghana Single Window
The implementation of the second phase of the Single Window in Ghana is expected to reduce time and cost of trade related procedures by 50 per cent resulting in annual savings of over US$ 120 million.
Delivering the keynote address at the conference, Mr Alan Kyerematen, the Minister of Trade and Industry, said trade facilitation was a cornerstone of the government's trade and economic development agenda.
"We believe it will greatly assist Ghana in reaching our full potential as a leading trading nation, both regionally and globally, and that this in turn will create strong earnings and employment growth within the country," he said.
UNCTAD visits Akufo-Addo
During the two-day conference, Dr Kituyi paid a courtesy call on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and renewed UNCTAD's commitment to deepen collaboration with Ghana in the key areas, including strengthening ports capacity, institutional support for the implementation of trade facilitation reforms, entrepreneurship under UNCTAD's EMPRETEC programme, and policy development in key trade-related areas.
Dr Kituyi also visited the Dignity DTRT (Do The Right Thing), Ghana's key textile industry, with a workforce of 1,500 people most of who are women, currently manufacturing garments for the international market.
Single Window benefits
The National Single Window enhances the potential for foreign direct investment in countries and links, in a seamless and electronic manner, information flow between importing and exporting traders, on one hand and the relevant government authorities on the other, making trade processes more efficient, transparent and cost effective.
According to the UNCTAD, investing in the implementation of trade facilitation reforms is also key for realising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG 9 on infrastructure.