Port of Ghana with a text saying 'All Round Guide to Ghana Shipment'

This article is an outcome of accumulated, through desk research we have conducted following numerous appeals from followers. Whether you are Business Trader looking for new opportunities or a Freight Forwarder keen to learn, we hope this read will be worthwhile for your time too.  The article will address key aspects of the Ghana market’s seaborne Import data.  The report will include sub-topics namely:

  • Data analysis
  • Prohibited to import
  • Role of Technology
  • Must-Have documentations
  • Tips for Exporters

Data Analysis

The analysis is based on the statistics of the United Nations, Trademap.org as well as our own gathering from day to day assessment of transport documents. According to our conclusion, Ghana imports have steadily increased each year since 1995, reaching US$13,075 billion worth of goods in 2018. But the trade balance was against Ghana until the beginning of the second-decade 21st century. The exports overtook the imports just after 2010 leading a positive trade balance with only fine margins.

Graphics showing the data of Ghana's import

In the past year, the top import products, in terms of values to Ghana, are by far Non-Crude Oil (US$1.8 bln), Passenger Vehicles (US$1.5 bln), Electronic appliances (US$1.1 bln). Since 2016, these three groups of commodities have equally split and accounted for more than 30% of total Import value. This finding partially correlates to the outcome we have come up with by assessing documents submitted for CTN application.

Kyle Hallner
Kyle Hallner

Operations Manager

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Graphics showing the proportion of CTN Applications Per Commodity Group

The dissimilarities obviously lay in the second most imported commodity, Passenger Vehicles, which account for 1.9% of total CTN Ghana applications. The reasoning is illustrated in the following sub-titles.

In the way of demographics China, the United States and, to my surprise, Belgium and India complete the top markets supplying Ghana Imports.

World map with a Chart and texts saying 'USA', 'Belgium', 'India' and 'China'

Closing in the 20% mark, China has the market share more than the next three suppliers put together. In fact, being a major supplier to most of the countries in the world, China dominated the supply chain of the West-African country for the last 10 years.

Prohibited to Import Ghana

You have to be familiar with the list of prohibited items for any country you export to. It may be obvious, but when you look deep into a specific country, you may find things like certain literature and or even foreign calendars among the banned items. Here is a brief list of commodities prohibited to import into Ghana:

Raw Coffee
Books, newspaper or any printed materials, which are defamatory, scandalous or demoralizing
Counterfeit Products/Notes
Toxic Wastes
Used Refrigerators and Freezers
Dangerous Weapons
Banned Drugs
Gambling devices
Ivory
Pornography materials
Precious metals & stones

If you ship something that is on the prohibited list, your cargo will be confiscated, and in some cases, you may be prosecuted.

Role of Technology

Innovation and digitalisation are cornerstones of the shipping and freight industry as well. From autonomous vehicles to drones, to delivery robots, the shipping industry has experienced a drastic change in the past few years. The latest surge in freight demand was only possible because the freight industry embracing technological developments so well. Technology scientists are creating it, Industry Moguls funding it, Freight Forwarders, Shipping lines, and Port managers adopting, facilitate the digitalisation to blend perfectly in advancing freight industry in a more cost-effective way.

There are ample cases of technology boost the maritime shipping industry, but nothing stands out more than the notion of ‘Smart Containers’. The term is used for seaborne freight containers which are equipped with sensors designed to provide real-time tracking of its location and movements. This technology allows shipping lines, customers, government and security agencies track the progress of containers anywhere in the world. Once the system is widely implemented across all containers Customs Authorities may use it to plan their equipment and could possibly be used in the security assessment of its content without physical checks needed.

  • ICUMS sustem

The role of technology is as important in customs management unit as it is in other departments of the supply chain. With this in mind Ghana authorities have developed Integrated Customs Management System called ICUMS. This system has succeed the Cargo Tracking Note, IDF, CCVR and PAARS systems previously needed to complete for any shipment to Ghana. Here is the steps that importer undertakes to clear the cargo with new system:

  1. Once all the documents received from the Exporter, the Importer needs to approach the customs broker with licence. The importance of licence is that only those customs agents have access to ICUMS system to submit request for clearance.
  2. The ICUMS system calculates how much import duty needs to be paid. Currently, instead of asking exporters to declare the cargo and its value, as it was the case with CTN, Ghana customs officers use predetermined list with values as Benchmark for declared value of cargo. If the price lays below the predetermined customs value, Customs officer will fix the import duty as per the Benchmark list.
  3. All the local fees needs to be paid. These include shipping line local admin charges, THC, Documentation fee, customs fees and delivery fee unless the importer is arranging pick up.

Must-Have Documentations

Ghana Shippers Authority has been at the frontline of Ghana’s maritime industry over the years, collaborating with private and public entities to pursue a common goal. One of those objectives is ensuring the safety of citizens as well as problems relating port, ship, and customs.

Ghana CTN Certificate (needed until August 2020)

In 2018, the Ghana Shippers’ Authority implemented Cargo Tracking Note system, urging shippers to submit freight information through CTN system. The Ghana CTN system is an electronic platform by which pre-arrival cargo information is received in advance.  The information is used for planning and for the commencement of the pre-clearance process. This is in a way to address the problems relating to high port operational cost and the demurrage charges faced by the shippers. Studies conducted by the Authority reveal that shippers paid demurrage in excess of US$75 million in one year. To assist shippers to save cost and speed up clearing at the ports, the Authority has initiated the process of deploying the CTN system. Although provided shippers and relevant government agencies with advance information on their cargo, the Ghana Customs Authorities have terminated the CTN application and replaced it with ICUMS system in August 2020.

Sample of the CTN document for Ghana

Late 2018, though, Ghana authorities have waived the CTN requirement for importing used cars. So for loading 6 months or older vehicle, you don’t need to file an application for loading certificate. Although Passenger vehicles are in top 3 commodities imported to Ghana, it is one of the least CTN applicable goods. To check if your shipment needs CTN certificate, get a free consultation

SGS Certificate

Implementing ICUMS is triggered by the Standard Authority’s decision to assess used cars only through SGS is adequate. SGS is yet another compulsory document every shipper must have in order to export into Ghana. Integrated with customs management systems, SGS is designed to support import and export processes. It also facilitates speed up transactions and reduce the costs involved in international trade. SGS also improve commodity compliance with the legal requirements of international trade, and facilitate greater cooperation in:

  • Customs processing
  • Transit and presentation
  • Classification
  • Electronic communication and document printing

The SGS certificate is proposed to the exporters to demonstrate the product security compliance and the declaration of pre-arrival cargo information.

Certificate of Conformity

Certificate of Conformity is yet another compulsory documents that must accompany any shipment to Ghana. This certification also acts as a pre-shipment inspection of goods. There are many companies who provide pre-inspection service among them Intertek and Bureau Veritas whose can issue verification of Conformity.

Here is the tip for the exporters. If the goods being exported to Ghana has not been verified with the certificate of conformity, you may present the certificate from the manufacturer. So, you won’t need to bare the additional cost of the inspection while loading the container. As long as the certificate is available by the manufacturer, the importer in Ghana can use the same.

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