The Member of Parliament for Okaikwei Central, Patrick Yaw Boamah, has urged government to take steps to resolve challenges with the export of goods to Benin.
“I am urging the Ministry of Trade, policymakers and implementers to ensure that whatever it takes for them to have negotiations with colleagues or trade partners in Benin is done immediately to protect Ghanaian jobs and safeguard Ghanaian industries,” he said in an interview.
According to him, due to the decision of Benin to withdraw from the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS), some companies such as Interplast are facing difficulties in the export of goods to that country.
As Benin has stopped implementing the ETLS for the past six months, the ECOWAS member state has in effect been charging customs duties on products exported from Ghana, a move which has adverse effects on the promotion of regional economic integration.
One of the main objectives of ECOWAS is to promote the economic integration of the region by establishing, among other things, a free trade area. The instrument created for this purpose is the ETLS, which ensures the free movement of products within the region without the payment of customs duties and taxes.
One of the affected Ghanaian industries, Mass Industries, on July 27, 2020, wrote to the Minister of Trade and Industry, drawing his attention to the new developments in the export procedures to Benin.
“We have been informed that Benin is no longer operating under the ETLS, which means that henceforth, duty levies will apply. We wish to kindly crave your assistance in this matter,” the letter from the company read in part.
Six months down the line, the same matter has been raised by Interplast, with the producer of pipes and profiles also complaining that the action by Benin is impacting its activities.
“A client importing any goods which were recognised by ETLS from Ghana has now to pay the duty on the said goods. The implication is that we Ghanaian exporters are no more competitive with regard to our peers from other countries. Furthermore, customers have started cancelling their orders and purchasing elsewhere. We have already lost some significant projects due to this situation,” a letter by Interplast dated February 16, 2021, addressed to the Minister of Trade and Industry read in part.
“Overall, there will be no Ghanaian products on the Benin market in the nearest future if nothing is done. In the light of the above, we humbly appeal to government to contact its counterpart in Benin to solve the ongoing matter which is heavily impacting export activities,” the letter further stated.
Describing the situation as urgent, Mr. Boamah said: “This is serious since it has implications in Ghana, and I am very concerned about it because job losses should not be entertained anywhere.”