The National Coalition for Trade Facilitation, a business-led initiative by ICC Ghana, to speed the ratification and implementation of the World Trade Organization's Trade Facilitation Agreement had its first meeting on Tuesday 12th January.

The new alliance is hosted by the International Chamber of Commerce Ghana, World Trade Centre Accra, Association of Ghana Industries, Ghana Employers Association, Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, Ghana Shippers Authority, Federation of Association of Ghanaian Exporters, Ghana Union of Traders Association and the Ghana National Cargo Transporters Association amongst others.

The National Alliance for Trade Facilitation with the support of the BUSAC Fund has provided a unique platform to leverage business expertise and resources in the implementation of customs and border reforms. While it is widely recognized that private-sector engagement will be critical for successful implementation of the TFA, the alliance is the first initiative to provide a national platform to bring business closer to the process of enacting reforms under the agreement.

The alliance will engage the Ministry of Trade & Industry and the Parliament of Ghana to ratify the TFA and also provide inputs in the development of a roadmap for its implementation.

Concluded at the WTO’s 2013 Bali Ministerial Conference, the Trade Facilitation Agreement contains provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit. It also sets out measures for effective cooperation between customs and other appropriate authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues. It further contains provisions for technical assistance and capacity building in this area.

The Protocol of Amendment inserting the TFA into Annex 1A of the WTO Agreement was subsequently adopted by the General Council on 27 November 2014. This in turn opened the door for members to formally accept the TFA through their domestic legislative procedures.

Niger, is the first ECOWAS member to ratify the Trade Facilitation Agreement and recently neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire and Togo have also joined.

The Agreement on Trade Facilitation Agreement is very important to business because it can have a major impact on bringing down trade transaction costs. Trade transaction cost are highest in developing countries, which are least able to carry this burden. The agreement has the potential to be of particular benefit to traders in Ghana. Unfortunately Ghana is yet to ratify the Agreement or send a notification on a Category of the Agreement.