Importers have resolved to resist any attempt to introduce the controversial Ghana Conformity and Assessment Programme (G-CAP) into the country’s trading regime.
The importers, who are suspecting financial motivation for the introduction of the G-CAP, contend the programme is a duplication of efforts by various agencies at the country’s entry points to check the importation of sub-standard goods, and will only increase the cost of doing business and also add to the complexity of clearing goods at the ports.
Already implementation of the G-CAP, originally fixed for October this year, has been suspended by the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) at the behest of the Trade Ministry — but the importers fear it could be reintroduced and have thus called for its outright cancellation.
Last week, several of the importers from umbrella-organisations such as Food and Beverages Association, Association of Ghana Industries, Ghana Automobile Dealers Association among others met in Accra to express their opposition to the idea of a G-CAP.
John Awuni, spokesperson of the importers said: “We believe in quality, honest trade practices and the protection of consumers and local producers. We will do nothing to compromise on these. But we are totally against the G-CAP as presented by GSA.
“G-CAP is duplication and illegal. Indeed, Ghana is already practicing product conformity assessment (pca) under our destination inspection regime.
“We believe the motive behind G-CAP lies in the expiry contracts of Destination Inspection Companies (DICS) with the government in 2015. It appears that some people are trying to repackage themselves so as to remain relevant under a so-called G-CAP — which is totally unnecessary and will further increase the burden on consumers and the cost of doing business in Ghana
“We are told the minimum that importers will pay for the G-CAP certificate of conformity is US$250 per product. When we did the calculations against the volume of imports that came into the country in 2013, the destination inspection companies would have made about US$90million and the Ghana Standards Authority’s (GSA) share of the money would be 20 percent. Is that the reason why we should implement it (G-CAP)?
“G-CAP, though suspended, must be cancelled.”
The Ghana Conformity Assessment Programme, which is expected to run concurrently with the existing pre-shipment regime, is a new directive from the GSA that all imports into the country must be tested and certified at the point of origin — the exporting country — before shipment can be effected.
Under the G-CAP, products to be shipped to Ghana will be inspected and tested by service providers that have been hired by GSA in the exporting country. For products that meet the conformity standards, GSA will be issued a certificate of conformity (CoC) in advance.
In a situation where the consignment does not meet specified requirements, a non-conformity report (NCR) will be issued and the exporter, on that basis, will not be able to ship the consignment to the country.
The GSA has explained that the G-CAP, when implemented, will apply to both small and large-scale shippers of high risk goods which include consumables, electronic products, and building materials.
The programme is being touted by both GSA and the shippers — specifically the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF) and clearing agents — to be a solution for the influx of cheap and sub-standard imports on the domestic market; a situation that remains an albatross militating against growth and sustainability of local manufacturing companies.
Mr. Awuni however argues product conformity assessment programmes that have been implemented in other African countries have failed to check the importation of low-grade goods, and instead increased the cost of doing business in those countries.
Citing incidents in other African countries such as Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Burundi, Algeria, Ethiopia and Egypt that have failed to use product conformity assessment programmes to control importation of inferior goods, Mr. Awuni said: “G-CAP does not prevent the importation of sub-standard goods. G-CAP has not succeeded anywhere in Africa where it has been implemented”.
He advised that the fight against importation of inferior goods into the country can be won if the GSA enhances its market surveillance processes.
However, Jessica Nkansah — a special assistant to the Executive Director of the GSA, said the mandate of the Authority is to be a conformity assessment body and not to engage in market surveillance.
“Whenever the GSA undertakes market surveillance, it is to protect against and check misuse of the Authority’s conformity mark.”
She said the GSA has the best of intentions in introducing the GCAP, which is to basically ensure value for money for shippers, safeguard local producers from unfair competition and boost public confidence when purchasing consumable goods on the market.