Market and Trade Data
Ghana Set for
Gateway Status in Western Africa
Elmasoeur Z. Ashitey
See also. . .
FAS Report GH7001
The World Factbook 2007
founding member of the WTO (World Trade Organization) in
1995, Ghana has been setting economic reforms in place.
The government has liberalized trade and investment
policy aimed at making Ghana the trade gateway to West
Africa. Though the government has made strides toward
opening its economy, there are still concerns facing
prospective U.S. exporters.
country’s largely ad valorem tariff does contribute to a
more transparent trading regime, but changing tariff
rates and non-tariff barriers continue to pose
challenges for entry of some agricultural products.
Also, the country enforces strict product standard
requirements for shelf life and labeling, and customs
procedures are drawn out and often expensive.
The ad valorem duty rates for agricultural imports range
from 5 to 20 percent, with 20 percent being the most
common (rice, poultry). A 10-percent tariff is levied on
raw materials such as cotton, with the 5-percent rate
mostly applied to timber products. Duties on alcoholic
beverages tend to be high.
add-ons, which include a value-added tax and assorted
smaller tariffs, can bring the tax tab up another 17.5
percent. Even duty-free items are levied a processing
fee of 1 percent.
Discretionary duty exemptions, based on declared country
needs, are granted piecemeal by the government. Current
products with no tariff assessment include veterinary
drugs and feed ingredients, as Ghana wants to expand its
Agreements and Partners
The United States entered into a TIFA (Trade and
Investment Framework Agreement) with Ghana in 1999,
which created a way to help trade between the two
countries and encourage investment. The TIFA’s bilateral
Council on Trade and Investment meets regularly to
government of Ghana is committed to jumpstarting the
unfulfilled provisions of the regional 15-member ECOWAS
(Economic Community of West African States), which
includes a customs union with a common external tariff
and single currency. Though Ghana generally applies its
trade policies and measures evenly to all trading
partners, even with ECOWAS partners, it protects its
agricultural sector from foreign competition.
(European Union) is Ghana’s largest trading partner,
with $665 million of agricultural exports to Ghana in
2005; in turn, Ghana exported $74.5 million worth to the
one of 77 African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries to
sign the ACP (Cotonou Partnership Agreement) with the
EU. Through the ACP, the EU offers a non-reciprocal
preferential trade agreement on many goods as well as
financial assistance to these countries. ACP members
continue to negotiate for removal of remaining trade
barriers between the EU and ACP countries by 2008.
bilateral agreements with Malaysia, the Czech Republic,
and Côte d’Ivoire, and is negotiating more with Romania,
Greece, Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, and Libya.
Rice Tops U.S.
In 2006, U.S. exporters sold $66 million
worth of agricultural products to Ghana.
Best sellers included:
Other High-Value Products
Non-Tariff Barriers Are Scarce
On the plus side, Ghana applies few formal non-tariff
barriers — no trade embargos, no import licenses before
goods are imported. However, permits are required for
some foods such as poultry, and these can be restrictive
or health certificates are required for plants and
seeds, live animals, poultry (including eggs and
chicks), meats, and liquor. Meats and meat products must
be accompanied by a certificate issued by country of
origin. Upon entry, the testing of food products is not
transparent. For example, neither information on what is
being tested for nor the results are available.
Shelf-life standards may present a problem for
perishables, as the government does not recognize
quality, packaging, and technological advances that
extend the life of products. Many food items entering
Ghana are required to have at least 50 percent of their
shelf life remaining at the time of port inspection.
This timeframe can affect perishables, as clearing
customs averages 7 days.
labeling requirements do not impose any specific
restrictions on packaging materials other than products
being stored in a manner that preserves their integrity.
English-language labels should include the type of
product being imported, ingredients or components,
country of origin, and date of expiration or best use
for perishables and high-value food products. Labels can
be printed on packages or stickers.
made progress toward coming into full compliance with
its WTO commitments, but significant problems add to the
cost of doing business here. However, the government is
continuing its reform agenda and is expected to
eventually eliminate unreasonable import barriers.
author is an agricultural specialist at the FAS Office
of Agricultural Affairs in Accra, Ghana. E-mail: