Ghana – Two Single Windows?

Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr. Carlos Ahenkorah, says Ghana a signatory to the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement is too small a country to have two Single Window operators.

He challenged the pioneer and only single window operator, Ghana Community Network Services Limited (GCNet) to speedily re-double its efforts in actualising the full breadth of Single Window operations in the country.

He recalled GCNet’s drive to automate trade facilitation and port clearance processes in the country and the difference that brought to trade and port operators.

He praised the Ghana Integrated Cargo Clearance Systems (GICCS) deployed by GCNet as efficient and robust enough to deliver on any valuation needs and address any bottlenecks in the overall clearance systems at the ports to deepen trade facilitation and enhance revenue mobilisation.

He noted that GCNet had taken too long in securing the manifest, the seed document in clearance processes at the ports from source, a situation that may have encouraged other operators to exploit the loophole to try to secure that right from the International Air Transport Association.

The Deputy Trade Minister, however, noted that if GCNet had connected Maersk Lines to transmit its manifest into the Ghana Customs Management System (GCMS) over the past three years then there was no way that it could not oblige other carriers to emulate that example and ensure that both air and sea manifest are transmitted expeditiously.

He also urged GRA (Customs Division) as the statutory body to assist GCNet to get all other carriers to do so with dispatch going forward.

Mr. Ahenkorah also charged GCNet to remain committed to their tenets of innovation and service delivery and work harder to expand the scope of its TradeNet Single Window platforms in order to ward off any superfluous and duplicitous competition.

On his part, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Shippers Authority, Dr. Kofi Mbiah, challenged Government to be bold to speedily resolve critical issues militating against the full actualisation of Single Window implementation in the country.

He said Ghana having been acknowledged as a pioneer in Single Window operations by international bodies like the World Bank and a number of countries having undertaking familiarization visits to Ghana to learn about the GCNet experience.

Dr. Mbiah noted that in as much as there was the need for collaboration between GCNet and other operators, it was also extremely important to define the parameters of engagement to create a level playing field for all players in the trade facilitation and revenue mobilisation eco-system.

Welcoming guests earlier to the event, the Executive Chairman of GCNet, Dr. Nortey Omaboe, noted that as a Public Private Partnership (PPP) conceived since its inception, the model over time had proved to be the most effective way of executing such a national mandate to support revenue mobilisation by Government, foster trade facilitation and enhance business competitiveness.

Dr. Omaboe observed that Government’s quest for increased revenue in an environment of reduced taxes to stimulate private sector growth meant greater focus on GCNet to come up with new initiatives to support revenue mobilisation efforts.

He, therefore, outlined a number of initiatives that GCNet had proposed to Government to enhance revenue mobilization.

These include the need to improve upon the valuation of consignments, the need to invoke bonds for transit goods that do not exit the country after 14 days and the review of the paltry charges currently imposed, ensuring that warehoused goods are ex-warehoused within the stipulated time periods.

Also, tighter control of free zone operations and the duty and tax exemptions granted thereon, the assignment of all newly registered taxpayers to relevant GRA Tax Offices and ensuring they file tax returns, etc.

Dr. Omaboe however expressed concerned about non-clarity in the role of some entrants in the trade facilitation and revenue mobilisation space following the cessation of the destination inspection companies and called for urgent steps to address the worrying development; and its inherent duplications and hence unnecessary cost to Government.

He was confident that what he termed ‘unnecessary complication’ would eventually be resolved mindful of the consideration that the interest of the country should remain paramount and be protected.

Dr. Omaboe assured guests that GCNet was poised for further growth and development in the years ahead as it leverages upon its continuous innovations in deploying systems that bring greater value to the Government and people of Ghana. Source: Ghana News Agency, Two Single Window Operators too much for Ghana, April 19, 2017

Africans roast South Africa for lack of openness

Chris Kirubi is a leading Kenyan businessman []

Chris Kirubi is a leading Kenyan businessman []

Frustration over Africa’s disparate tax, travel, investment and trading regimes boiled over yesterday as Chris Kirubi, a leading Kenyan businessman and one of the wealthiest people on the continent, tore into South Africa’s failure to be a leading light in opening up the continent for business. Kirubi was a participant in a panel discussion at the “Africa: The Outlook, the Opportunity” event hosted by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg in downtown Johannesburg.

To underscore his frustration, the outspoken Kirubi questioned why African travel businesses kept going to Europe and North America to sell African tourism, leaving behind Africans like him who needed no further convincing about visiting Africa. “Open markets are not happening yet. We must open markets for people, goods and services,” Kirubi said. “South Africa needs to take leadership by opening up for smaller countries. How many of us have been allowed to invest here?”

His sentiments on the issue of openness were echoed by Reserve Bank governor Gill Marcus, who said the focus in Africa should be about co-operation and less about competition. Marcus, who seemed rather at ease five days after a slide in global emerging market currencies prompted her to hike interest rates, said the issue was “how do we use our different strength to benefit Africa as a whole”. She said co-operation would be particularly critical in dealing with three core challenges facing the continent: water, food and energy.

To illustrate what was possible if African governments worked together to create a more open investment environment, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, the vice-president of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), said there was an emerging notion in west Africa, in terms of which Ghana was seen as the gateway and Nigeria as the destination.

He added that the NSE was planning to visit the JSE in the coming months to explore areas of possible co-operation. In that regard, as an economic powerhouse, South Africa had an important role to play in reshaping how Africa did business, not only with the rest of the world but more importantly with itself.

“There are major issues we are not addressing and it is an issue of laws,” added Kirubi, who is also the east Africa chairman of a joint venture with Tiger Brands, South Africa’s biggest consumer goods company.

On tax, he asked why South Africa and Kenya did not have a tax agreement and why he needed to go via Mauritius each time he needed to open a holding company. “We have a problem. We’ve got to wake up.”

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was also among the panellists. He acknowledged that there were “huge challenges” in the mining sector, but reiterated the need for perspective on issues relating to labour strikes. “There is a lot of good work being done. In the next few years, skills development and training will be [enhanced] a lot more.” Source: Business Report

FDI – Nigeria First in Africa for a Second Year

TCredit - Photobuckethe United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNTAD) yesterday ranked Nigeria Africa’s number one destination for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Africa for the second time in two years. The latest UNCTAD report, entitled, “Global Value Chains: Investment and Trade for Development”, put Nigeria’s FDI inflows at $7.03billion while South Africa recorded $4.572bn; Ghana, $3.295bn; Egypt, $2.798bn and Angola, 6.898bn; among others.

According to the report, FDI inflows to African countries went up by five per cent to $50bn in 2012, though global FDI declined by 18 per cent. The report noted that most of the FDIs into Africa mainly driven by the extractive industry, but said there was an increase in investments in consumer-oriented manufacturing and services.

Global FDI fell by 18 per cent to $1.35 trillion in 2012. This sharp decline was in stark contrast to other key economic indicators such as GDP, international trade and employment, which all registered positive growth at the global level,” which was attributed to economic fragility and policy uncertainty in a number of major economies, giving rise to caution among investors.

It added that developing countries take the lead in 2012 for the first time ever, accounting for 52 per cent of global FDI flows. This is partly because the biggest fall in FDI inflows occurred in developed countries, which now account for only 42 per cent of global flows. In 2011, Nigeria was ranked Africa’s biggest destination for FDI, with total inflows of $8.92bn, South Africa followed with $5.81bn, while Ghana received $3.22bn. Source: