To ensure trade facilitation and harmonisation in the sub-region, the World Bank, in collaboration with ECOWAS, are calling for reforms at the Tema Port under a European Union funded Improved and Facilitated Trade in West Africa Project.
The project aims to give the Tema Port a turnaround to improve the flow of regional and international trade, by unlocking transit challenges.
It will focus on reducing the time and cost to trade as well as increase border agency cooperation and coordination to encourage better flow of trade along the region’s major trading partners.
As part of the project, the World Bank has identified various areas within the Tema Port where there is need for reforms—specifically cross-cutting reforms, transit regime reforms and import and export reforms—to reposition the port as the preferred trade hub in the sub-region.
Obi Ihonor, Private Sector Specialist, Trade and Competitiveness at the World Bank Group (WBG) and Project Leader, speaking at a workshop in Accra to present recommendations of a two-day private sector workshop to government agencies working at the Tema Port, said the project will improve trade in West Africa, specifically, transit trade along the region’s major trade corridors.
She said: “The World Bank Group and ECOWAS, will work together with the various state actors to review ways of obtaining optimal usage of the process map to ultimately develop an implementation roadmap for the agreed enhancements to the import-export-transit experience at Tema Port.”
The €3.5 million Improved and Facilitated Trade in West Africa Project is a four-year initiative that was launched in November 2014. The project seeks to support ECOWAS to improve trade in the sub-region as part of efforts to increase transparency, identify bottlenecks and develop a clear plan to support the overall improvement of export, import and transit processes.
The reforms, the World Bank says will eliminate hard copy documents, streamline cargo inspections and sampling processes, eliminate redundant fees and duties and address misalignment between operational hours of stakeholders/agencies.
According to Obi Ihonor, the implementation of the reforms “will launch very effective, transformational reforms to the Tema Port for the benefit of the trading community which will boost trade, increase competitiveness, deepen regional integration, and ultimately create jobs for the people of Ghana and West Africa.”
Other recommendations include simplifying complex transit documentation/fee process in the post-arrival phase, reduce delays caused by stripping transit containers at the port, address inefficiencies in the containers’ transit flows, and increased costs resulting from the application of VAT to transit processes.
The bank also proposed the streamlining of scanning process for import and export containers, and providing solutions to inadequate holding yard for trucks.
The project which will focus on three main corridors: Tema-Ouagadougou, Abidjan-Ouagadougou and Niamey-Cotonou will also ensure containerisation of transit cargo and VAT on transit service, streamlining transhipment processes and procedures, overloading, simplify transit procedures at the port as well as renewal of truck fleet.
“The Economic Community of West African States is committed to implementing programmes that facilitate regional integration and making it work for private sector operators and the people of West Africa,” said Louali Chaibou, Commissioner, Trade Customs and Free Movement, ECOWAS Commission.
According to the World Bank, the regional corridors are important trade arteries and that facilitating trade along corridors, including the ports and land borders, are vital for improving the region’s trade environment.
Source: B & FT