electronic system that links all trade operators, revenue agencies, and regulatory bodies through a "Single Window” system. The current set up contrasts sharply with the pre-GCNet situation, when trade operators had to shuttle from one agency to the other, while processing their trade and Customs transactions causing delays.
Utilizing GCNet/GCSM, consignments could be cleared within 1-2 days (but practically it takes about five days) as opposed to an average of 2-3 weeks clearance time in the past.
Along with other ECOWAS countries, Ghana adopted a common external tariff (CET) in November 2005. In July 2005, Ghana aligned its tariff rates of 0%, 5%, 10%, 20% with those of the ECOWAS, but requested for type B exemptions for some items, until the end of the transitional period, 2006-2007. Currently, Ghana still maintains 190 exceptions to the CET which require some increase or decrease to align with the CET. Ghana is currently in a transition period and is negotiating these exceptions with ECOWAS. The deadline for agreement on a comprehensive ECOWAS CET was January 1, 2008, but this has not yet been concluded.
Port Concessions and Destination Inspection Scheme
In March 2002, Ghana adopted a port concession by transferring port operations to private sector operators with the aim to significantly increase Ghana's cargo reception, storage, bonded warehousing and clearance capabilities, as well as providing consumers with a broader commercial choice. As such Ghana has become a cargo hub and transit route to land-locked Africa, attracting more external business through Ghanaian ports and borders. Ghana abolished Pre-shipment Inspection effective, April, 1, 2000, and replaced it with the Destination Inspection Scheme [DIS] backed by computerized risk management, X-ray scanning and physical inspection. Now all exports to Ghana are subject to Destination Inspection unless specifically exempted by the Ministry of Trade and Industry. There are no threshold exemptions hence all imports are subject to inspection, regardless of their value. Inspection charges are currently pegged at 1% CIF value. The GOG has appointed two companies to provide destination inspection in Ghana: Gateway Services Limited (GSL) is responsible for sea freight and Ghana Standards Board and Bureau Veritas (GSBV) is responsible for shipments arriving by air and land. In addition, depending on the imported goods, clearances may require the approval of FDB, Ghana Standards Board, National Drug and Nacortics Board and other agencies at the ports of Ghana.
Documentations, Export and Customs Clearing
Method of payment Letters of Credit (LC) are generally accepted as the method used in the payment of imported goods. The LC can be irrevocable or confirmed. Due to delays most importers utilize inter-bank wire transfers for the payment of their imported goods. The exporter simply ships the items to importer upon receipt of his bank transfer payments. This method has been helpful in speeding up the process. To establish an LC a Bank may require a signed proforma invoice (attested), IDF, pre-shipment notification from the Ghana Shippers Council, Marine insurance (normally covered in Ghana but not a precondition). This is a long process and could take more than two weeks. Upon receipt of the bank transfer the cargo is then shipped to Ghana. The shipment time by sea from the U.S. to Ghana, on the average takes three weeks. Air transport is about a day. It is advised that confirmed, irrevocable letters of credit opened by Ghanaian