A Consultant in trade facilitation under the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Mr John Smith, has recommended a dialogue between importers on one side and the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) and the Ministry of Trade and Industry on the other, to ensure better understanding of the Ghana Conformity Assessment Programme (G-CAP).
According to him, Ghana stood to gain from implementing the programme and that while there was presently a freeze on the process, dialogue must continue for all stakeholders to better understand it.
Speaking in an interview with the Daily Graphic in Accra, he said the benefits of the programme had taken care of all the teething issues of importers and urged calm for further deliberations and dialogue on the programme.
Since the GSA sounded its intention to adopt the G-CAP, importers in the country have begun a campaign against its implementation, citing various reasons; including the extra cost it would bring to them, among many other things.
This is in spite of the fact that the GSA has undertaken various stakeholder consultation workshops across the 10 regions to educate the people on the programme.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MOTI) has, therefore, called for a hold on its implementation.
Answering a question about where the technical standards could be found, Mr Smith said; “The technical standards are available to the service providers who normally liaise with the exporter/supplier of the products.
“It is the exporter/supplier’s responsibility to ensure that the goods they intend to ship to Ghana meet the country’s technical requirements,” he said, adding that, “it is worthy to note that the same exporters/suppliers are currently complying with a set of technical requirements for countries running similar programmes.”
About complaints with regards to payment of registration fees by importers, Mr Smith said: “The registration fees are only applicable to exporters/suppliers who export their respective products under Route B. The fees are only paid by the exporter/supplier annually upon meeting the set criteria”.
Route B, he said, offered a fast track certification process for exporters who have demonstrated compliance to the G-CAP programme and who export goods having reasonable and consistent levels of conformity through registration of such products by the service provider.
Mr Smith further explained that product registration is recommended to exporters having frequent shipment of homogenous products, explaining that “Route C – offers a fast track certification process for manufacturers who have a complaints and an appropriate quality management system in place.”
He said the same programme has been implemented in many countries, yet there had not been any cost increases on products passed on to consumers.
According to him, “This programme protects the importers from unscrupulous exporters/suppliers of substandard goods” adding that, “The Importer is also protected from financial losses since Certificates of Conformity (COCs) are required to be produced before the banks honour LC payments,” he said.
Mr Smith said the principle was for the exporter/supplier to ensure that goods shipped to Ghana met the technical requirements.
Consequently, he said the GSA had, therefore, contracted service providers with the required global presence and technical capabilities to undertake these interventions.
He said the GSA was able to audit its operations and performance through periodic surveillance audits of the service providers facilities to ascertain their competencies.