The Managing Director of Interplast, Hyssam Fakhry, says manufacturing firms in Ghana are losing billions of cedis in revenue due to challenges with the export of goods to Benin.

The West Africa nation has stopped implementing the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) for the past six months. It has in effect been charging customs duties on products exported from Ghana, a move that has adverse effects on the promotion of regional economic integration. 

“A client importing any goods which were recognised by ETLS from Ghana has now to pay the duty on the said goods. The implication is that we Ghanaian exporters are no more competitive with regard to our peers from other countries. Furthermore, customers have started cancelling their orders and purchasing elsewhere. We have already lost some significant projects due to this situation,” he told Joy Business.

Should the situation elapse, Hyssam Fakhry, has warned of job losses and the dissipation of clientele from the Francophone market if urgent interventions are not taken.

“We have no option but to lay off staff. Our profits too will fall dramatically and this will affect the Ghanaian economy,” he warned.

One of the main objectives of ECOWAS is to promote the economic integration of the region by establishing, among other things, a free trade area. The instrument created for this purpose is the ETLS, which ensures the free movement of products within the region without the payment of customs duties and taxes.

The ETLS is a tool which aims at the operationalization of the Free Trade Area. The ETLS mechanism ensures the free movement of originating products without the payment of customs duties and taxes of equivalent effect on importation into ECOWAS Member States.

The ETLS was established in 1979 and at that time only covered agricultural products and handmade crafts. Then, in 1990, it was extended to industrial products.

This expansion required the formulation of rules relating to the definition of the concept of “products originating” from ECOWAS. The “Rules of Origin” have therefore been stated.