Tempers were high last Friday when the Minister of Trade and Industry, KT Hammond, attempted to lay the legislative instrument in Parliament as the Minority strongly opposed the move.
The bill, if passed, will restrict the importation of 22 products in the country.
Six business associations that will be affected by the import restrictions bill have submitted a petition to Parliament in opposition to the proposed legislative instrument.
The groups under the umbrella name, Joint Business Consultative Forum, include the Ghana Union of Traders’ Associations (GUTA), Food and Beverages Association of Ghana (FABAG), Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana, Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF), Chamber of Automobile Dealership Ghana (CADEG), and Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI).
During an interview on The Point of View on Citi TV, a Policy Analyst at Third World Network, Sylvester Bagooro, questioned the measures put in place by the government in dealing with supplier constraints in the value chain.
“Every country in the world protects its local economies, so there’s no free-for-all. Looking at what the Minister of Trade and Industry [KT Hammond] wants to do, we need to be very careful so as not to cause more harm. If you want to protect local production, what are the accompanying measures in terms of dealing with supplier constraints?”
He emphasized, “What he’s trying to do, we might actually run into more problems. The Minister is saying that they want to deal with the balance of payment problems and conserve foreign exchange for the country. Yes, you can invoke this reasoning in the World Trade Organisation provisions. The key question is, of all these products, what is the level of domestic production? What are the policy measures you need to raise the measures?”
Sylvester Bagooro underscored the need for Ghana to invoke WTO provisions of increasing tariffs on the importation of these selected products rather than restricting imports.
“The little space you have at the WTO, you can use it. Instead of going the quantitative restrictions, you can go the tariff way, and that will be better, like what Malaysia did. If you want to grow your rice, just raise tariffs on the rice and use it to support the production of the same products. And you can be justified under the WTO rules,” he opined.