Application processes through the Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS) for export under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is to commence on January 18,2021.
This was announced by Mr Fechin Akoto, Assistant Commissioner of Customs in charge of Tariff and Trade, and responsible for Free Trade Agreements including AfCFTA, in a media interaction.
He indicated that the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) was currently assisting the exporters on the necessary processes, as well as all key information regarding trading in the AfCFTA.
He said a desk was being established for activities related to Customs processes under the AfCFTA, disclosing that, a portal with the necessary information on the AfCFTA including the various tariff offers of the various states in particular product lines would also be published on the ICUMS platform.
The Assistant Commissioner urged the trading public to visit the Customs Technical Services Bureau at the GRA Headquarters in Accra, for all enquiries concerning exports and imports under the AfCFTA.
He further advised importers and exporters who wished to trade within the AfCFTA to diligently find out if the country being exported to was a party state to the agreement.
He said that it was also equally important for exporters to find out the tariff offers of the destination country to ascertain whether their exports qualify for preferential treatment in the AfCFTA, adding that various needed licences, permits, and documents must be duly acquired.
Touching on the processes, he stated that the exporter would have to complete, and submit the AfCFTA Exporter Registration Form where an exporter reference code would begenerated, this, he noted would be used for all export transactions with Customs.
He further said exporters would have to apply for a certificate of origin, which could be acquired after Customs, Chamber of Commerce, and Ministry of Trade jointly conduct and verify that products satisfy the requirements of rules of origin.
“Before you acquire the certificate of origin, we go ahead to look at the final product and the raw materials that go into making that product to make sure it qualifies under rules of origin,” he indicated.
Mr Akoto added that, “There is a clear distinction between this inspection and that of what the regulatory bodies would undertake. The regulatory bodies are looking for quality standards as required as well as that of the country of importation,” he added.
The Assistant Commissioner noted that after the certificate of origin was acquired, exporters could proceed to process a customs export entry, after which preparations could be made to cart goods to the port of exit.
He indicated that, at the point of exit, the designated customs authority would have to stamp and sign the certificate of origin which would make goods acceptable at the port of importation in the destination African country.
For imports, he said, an importer who wished to take advantage of the free trade area should ensure that goods being imported fall within the 90 per cent, Adding that, “ECOWAS common external tariff had 6,129 tariff lines and the tariff offer schedules and modalities require that 90% of these 6,129 tariff lines which is 5,560 tariff lines is liberalized. This means we’ll start dismantling tariff of these 5,560 lines immediately. Before you enjoy the preferential tariffs you should make sure that it falls under these commodities”.
The Assistant Commissioner further entreated importers to ensure that their goods were accompanied by a certificate of origin duly signed by the competent authority at the exporting country in addition to relevant documents such as a bill of lading, air waybill, commercial invoices, certificates of analysis, and phytosanitary certificates on plant products.