Ghana and Burkina Faso on Friday jointly launched Border Information Centres (BICs) at Paga in Ghana and Dakola in neighbouring Burkina Faso.
The move was aimed at removing bottlenecks that confront traders along that route in the West African Sub Region.
Speaking at separate functions, Mr Abraham Ocloo, Research and Development Manager of the Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA) said it had been established that the lack of information on trade rules and procedures were key obstacles and disincentives to traders using the borders.
“The lack of critical information on the ECOWAS Trade protocols in the form of ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) on the part of importers and exporters using the borders had reduced the competitiveness and the effectiveness of trade across the Sub Regions”, he stressed.
He explained that it was against this background that the Ghana Shippers Authority which had the mandate of representing the interest of importers and exporters in Ghana collaborated with SAID-West Africa Trade Hub to open the BICs at Paga and Dakola border entry posts in Ghana and Burkina Faso respectively.
He said his outfit and the USAID–West Africa Trade Hub last year also inaugurated BICs at Aflao in Ghana and Kodjoviakope in Togo, all aimed at curtailing the high cost of imports, exports and transportation. It was further to curb the harassment and delays which ultimately resulted in higher costs to consumers.
“It is expected that this will help trade to flow more easily and the movement of traders between Ghana and its neigbouring states of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger will be highly enhanced.”
He expressed the hope that the collaborations would also help the businesses of importers and exporters in Ghana to grow more efficient and be more competitive.
Mr Byron Battle, the USAID-West Africa Trade Hub Director, lamented that unlike the European Countries where shipment and trans-border trade processes often took four days to complete, that of sub regions of Africa took more than 20 days which invariably affected businesses.
He noted that when such hurdles are cleared, it would pave way for the creation of more employment and wealth for the people of the sub regions in Africa.
Mrs Lucy Awuni, Deputy Upper East Regional Minister who inaugurated the BIC on behalf of Ghana, commended USAID, the West Africa Trade Hub, Ghana Shippers’ Authority and Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Organization, as well as all persons who contributed towards the establishment of the center.
She said one of the core policies of Government was to ensure speedy and efficient clearance of goods not only at the ports but also at the borders and indicated that Trade Facilitation reforms had been carried out in Ghana over the years due to its important benefits for development.
She said trade stimulation, attraction of foreign direct investment, improvement in the collection of customs revenue and reduction in incentives for smuggling and corruption with resultant reduction in transaction costs brought considerable benefits to Government, the private sector and consumers.
Mrs Awuni indicated that as a Regional entity, efforts by member states were very far from the realization of the objective of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme [ETLS] that was to establish a Customs Union among all member states aimed at the total elimination of Customs duties and taxes of equivalent effect, the removal of non-tariff barriers and the establishment of a Common Customs External Tariff and to protect goods produced in Member States.
“Therefore the least we can do is for all of us to take full advantage of this center to educate ourselves on regional trade rules, regulations and procedures to facilitate border processing, reduce costs and delays and thereby increase intra-regional trade.”
She expressed confidence that with the establishment of the centers, all stakeholders would be better informed to play their various roles diligently to enhance the trading regime, adding that as importers, exporters, transporters, drivers, freight forwarders, customs officers, immigration officers, police and consumers, it was necessary they were abreast with the laws.
She urged all stakeholders for whom these centres had been established to take full advantage of the services offered to improve on their businesses, process delivery as well as reduce the time and cost of doing business.
The Chairman of the Burkina Faso Shippers Council, Mr Ali Traore pledged that his outfit and the entire Burkinabe government would work hard to ensure that the projects succeeded to benefit all traders in West Africa.
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