Small, Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have been advised to master the Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS) of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), a precursor to ensuring their prospects in attracting credit from banks, in order to benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Area’s (AfCFTA) enormous opportunities
According to the Managing Director of FBNBank, Mr. Victor Yaw Asante, he opined that, essentially for the likes of importers and exporters, their knowledge base on the usage of the platform will be crucial to the businesses.
“We have a US$3.4 trillion economy to play in, we have 54 countries to access, we have a continent which has decided to pursue free trade and we must take advantage of it. With the introduction of AfCFTA, the stakes have been raised higher. SMEs in Ghana, most importantly, need to secure their registration on ICUMS in order to ensure efficient import and export of goods”.
Principal Revenue Officer of the GRA-CD, Mr. Smile Agbemenu, touching on the Business Forum on the AfCFTA Export/Import Procedure in relation to ICUMS, explained the fundamental areas areas of the implementation of AfCFTA including the AfCFTA Agreement Structure, the AfCFTA Key Milestone, Trade in Goods (TiG), AfCFTA TiG Protocol Annexes, AfCFTA Origin Criteria, Export Registration Process, Export and Certificate of Origin (CoD) and Import of Goods under AfCFTA.
“Customs Administrations have the responsibility to implement six out of the nine annexes under the TiG Protocols, specifically Annexes 1, 2, 3, 4, 7 and 8. Critical among these is Annex 2 which deals with Rules of Origin”.
Notably, he highlighted the fact that goods can only be imported or exported once they qualify under the five types of origin criteria.
Mr. Agbemenu further explained the various roles of the Ghana National Chamber for Commerce and Industry (GNCCI), the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MOTI) and the GRA-CD in the Exporter Registration Process by noting that, “exporter registration is online on ICUMS, where it is vetted and approved by GNCCI, GRA-CD and the MOTI. Registration is for a year, so it expires at the end of the calendar year”.
Further expatiating on the registration process on ICUMS, Mr. Akwasi Seinti, Application Support Officer of GLNS said, “ICUMS has been provisioned to simplify the registration process. You engage the services of a declarant or a Customs House Agent. They can register you on the system. It is a very simple form which requires basic information like the location of the company, the authorized representative and the items or products which you intend to trade in under AfCFTA. Once the form has been completed online, you only wait for approval which may be given by the three agencies involved, GNCCI, MOTI and GRA-CD, after they have vetted your application”.
Meanwhile, International Trade Expert and Senior Partner at AB and David, David Ofosu-Dorte has charged private sector players to formalize their business strategies in line with government policies or risk losing out on the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.
According to him, the implementation of the agreement leaves no room for informal operations, hence the need for proper alignment with government policies.
“This will not be very helpful because you’ll just get carried along, so the strategy has to be formal. Now it need not to be very big but at least, some amount of it [strategy] needs to be formalized; and it is because the formalization helps you to recognize the level and territory within which you’re operating”.
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