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POLICY REVIEWS: SECOND PRESS RELEASE AND
The Trade Policy Review Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) concluded its second review of Ghana on 26 and 28 February 2001. The text of the Chairperson's concluding remarks is attached as a summary of the salient points which emerged during the discussion.
TRADE POLICY REVIEW BODY: REVIEW OF GHANA
TPRB'S EVALUATION Back to top
The review enables the TPRB to conduct a collective examination of the full range of trade policies and practices of each WTO member countries at regular periodic intervals to monitor significant trends and developments which may have an impact on the global trading system.
The review is based on two reports which are prepared respectively by the WTO Secretariat and the government under review and which cover all aspects of the country's trade policies, including its domestic laws and regulations, the institutional framework, bilateral, regional and other preferential agreements, the wider economic needs and the external environment. A record of the discussion and the Chairperson's summing-up together with these two reports will be published in due course at the complete trade policy review of Ghana and will be available from the WTO Secretariat, Centre William Rappard, 154 rue de Lausanne, 1211 Geneva 21.
Since December 1989, the following reports have been completed: Argentina (1992 and 1999), Australia (1989, 1994 and 1998), Austria (1992), Bahrain (2000) Bangladesh (1992 and 2000), Benin (1997), Bolivia (1993 and 1999), Botswana (1998), Brazil (1992, 1996 and 2000), Burkina Faso (1998), Cameroon (1995), Canada (1990, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998 and 2000), Chile (1991 and 1997), Colombia (1990 and 1996), Costa Rica (1995), Côte d’Ivoire (1995), Cyprus (1997), the Czech Republic (1996), the Dominican Republic (1996), Egypt (1992 and 1999), El Salvador (1996), the European Communities (1991, 1993, 1995, 1997 and 2000), Fiji (1997), Finland (1992), Ghana (1992 and 2001), Guinea (1999), Hong Kong (1990, 1994 and 1998), Hungary (1991 and 1998), Iceland (1994 and 2000), India (1993 and 1998), Indonesia (1991, 1994 and 1998), Israel (1994 and 1999), Jamaica (1998), Japan (1990, 1992, 1995,1998 and 2000), Kenya (1993 and 2000), Korea, Rep. of (1992, 1996 and 2000), Lesotho (1998), Macau (1994), Madagascar (2001), Malaysia (1993 and 1997), Mali (1998), Mauritius (1995), Mexico (1993 and 1997), Morocco (1989 and 1996), New Zealand (1990 and 1996), Namibia (1998), Nicaragua (1999), Nigeria (1991 and 1998), Norway (1991, 1996 and 2000), Pakistan (1995), Papua New Guinea (1999), Paraguay (1997), Peru (1994 and 2000), the Philippines (1993), Poland (1993), Romania (1992 and 1999), Senegal (1994), Singapore (1992, 1996 and 2000), Slovak Republic (1995), the Solomon Islands (1998), South Africa (1993 and 1998), Sri Lanka(1995), Swaziland (1998), Sweden (1990 and 1994), Switzerland (1991, 1996 and 2000 (jointly with Liechtenstein), Tanzania (2000), Thailand (1991, 1995 and 1999), Togo (1999), Trinidad and Tobago (1998), Tunisia (1994), Turkey (1994 and 1998), the United States (1989, 1992, 1994, 1996 and 1999), Uganda (1995), Uruguay (1992 and 1998), Venezuela (1996), Zambia (1996) and Zimbabwe (1994).
Our discussions have provided an open and informative second Trade Policy Review of Ghana at a critical time for her economy. Members were heartened by Ghana's commitment to freer trade and economic reform, reaffirmed by the incoming Government elected to office in December 2000. Members acknowledged Ghana's active participation in the multilateral trading system and welcomed continued efforts to open its market by refraining from using non-tariff measures and relying on tariffs as the main instrument of trade protection. The central role to be played by trade, investment and the private sector in Ghana's economic restructuring and improving its international competitiveness was widely recognized, and Ghana was urged to pursue further liberalization. Ghana was also encouraged to improve governance and strengthen its institutions. Revitalization of the privatization programme was also encouraged. Members commended Ghana for having managed to service its heavy external debt, largely without rescheduling, and despite a difficult economic situation.
While appreciating Ghana's efforts, Members highlighted the urgent need to restore macroeconomic stability through sound fiscal and monetary policies. The Ghanaian delegation referred to the incoming Government's commitments to immediately tackle the large deficits and balance the budget by the end of 2004. Members noted that adverse terms of trade were part of Ghana's international trading environment and that the most effective means of coping with such movements was to promote economic resilience through sound economic management and diversification. This was essential if the Government's ambitious Vision 2020 objective of achieving middle-income status and of making Ghana a leading agro-based industrial country in Africa by 2010 were to succeed. Members sought details concerning specific measures envisaged to achieve these objectives and the timetable for their implementation.
Members supported Ghana's principal trade policy objective of export-led growth by broadening the economy's export base and promoting a more competitive manufacturing sector. However, some Members questioned the use of direct incentives, notably generous income tax concessions, to encourage exports and welcomed Ghana's readiness to notify them if necessary. Members welcomed efforts to improve customs administration to facilitate trade, such as the recent implementation of the transaction value and termination of preshipment inspection.
While Members welcomed the Government's policy objective of reducing the average applied MFN tariff to below 10% over the next three years, they questioned the recent imposition of the "special import tax" of 20% on many consumer goods. Members sought clarification on its role in protecting industries against unfair trading practices abroad and on proposed timing for its elimination. The Ghanaian delegation reaffirmed that it was a temporary measure to save foreign exchange on "non-essential" imports and was not an anti-dumping measure. The Government had recently reduced the coverage of the tax from about 7% to 5% of tariff lines and intended to eliminate it when the situation improved.
Questions were also raised regarding the low level of tariff bindings on industrial products and the widespread use of tariff concessions and exemptions, which often lack transparency. The usefulness of having an independent statutory body to review economic and trade policies was also mentioned by some participants. Ghana's regional initiatives, including those within ECOWAS and the African Economic Community, were also noted and discussed. Members sought details on Ghana's sectoral policies, especially for cocoa and manufacturing, and the Government's objectives in the WTO agricultural and services negotiations.
Additional details were sought on a number of other issues, including:
Members expressed their appreciation of the written and oral responses provided by the Ghanaian delegation and looked forward to receiving the additional responses.
In conclusion, I feel that we have had a successful Trade Policy Review that has contributed greatly to improved transparency and understanding by Members of Ghana's trade and other economic policies, in the context of its difficult economic situation and immense developmental challenges. Many constructive suggestions were made on how Ghana might proceed on its trade and economic reforms. Ghana has reiterated its strong commitment to the multilateral system and Members have expressed assurances of help in the form of bilateral and multilateral technical assistance. Members also recognized that Ghana's access to the markets of developed countries was critical for improving its economic performance.