Mintah: Political will required for implementation of sustainable national single window

Political will and the right governance is required to build an effective and sustainable national single window environment, Chief Executive Officer, West Blue Consulting, Valentinah Mintah has said.

Mintah who said this at the Ghana National Single Window media workshop organised by the firm at the weekend in Akosombo, said excessive bureaucracy remained a major constraint to trade processes in Africa.

At the workshop attended by SHIPS & PORTS DAILY correspondent, Shulammite ‘Foyeku, Mintah said African importers and exporters remain uncompetitive in the global business arena because of the number of days it takes to complete import and export processes and the attendant cost.

She however noted that when countries key into the concept of the single window platform with support from government and stakeholders collaboration, it would help address these bottlenecks, simplify international trade as well enhance competitiveness and increased participation in the global economy.

“The political will and having governance structure so that whatever is being built leaves beyond one person or regime is very fundamental. So there is need for the right government structure to maintain, monitor and optimize the single window so that there is a sustainable program tomake sure that the right resources are always maintained on the system.

“We need to ensure intra Africa trade is increased so that all surpluses and deficit that exist within the region can be balanced. Intra Africa trade is very low so we need to be able to ensure that our systems talk to each other and our business talk together so that we can look at the self sufficiency that is needed for our continent,” she said.

She said one of the main reasons why the Ghanaian government initiated the Ghana National Single Window (GNSW) project in December 2015 was to improve the global ranking of the country from 171 out of 189 countries in the World Bank trading across borders report for 2016 to 121 by 2021.

According to her, it is estimated that the GNSW project will reduce cost and time of international trade in Ghana by 50 and 25 percent respectively over the next five years and also improve on Ghana’s foreign direct investment prospect.

She said, “This will have a huge impact on the international competitiveness of Ghanaian business and should other things being equal, result in a strong growth in Ghana international trade performance. Similarly the ranking within the sub Saharan Africa regions could increase from 36 to 16 all things being equal.”

While highlighting some of the achievement of the GNSW project, Mintah said it had among other benefits supported the Ghana Customs Authority to take over the classification and valuation process for import which she said has helped reduce the time for import classification and valuation of compliant transactions from two weeks to 48 hours and in some cases two hours.

Earlier in his presentation on Trade facilitation instrument and agreement, Managing Director, Trade Development and Facilitation Consulting, Tom Butterly stated that if the concept of the single window is fully implemented globally, it could save implementing countries $1trillion annually.

He said single window concept is being implemented in about 70 countries and has helped implementing countries – most of which he said are Africa – reduce time and cost of doing business, enhance efficiency of trade and increase government revenue.

He noted that stakeholders’ collaboration and engagement is fundamental in achieving an effective implementation of single window.

“The key aspect of single window is the working together of agencies rather than each agency working on its own. It works in a community with Customs and other agencies for the benefit of the country and from this, everybody benefits. The traders, government’s agencies work more efficiently and revenue generation is better. It is a win- win scenario for everybody provided everybody works together as a community,” he said.

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