Origin fraud said to be challenge to trade facilitation in Africa

Mr Charles Arthur Ntiri, Head of Export at the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce & Industry (GNCCI), says origin fraud is one of the challenges confronting trade facilitation on the African continent.

Origin fraud refers to the practice of intentionally misrepresenting the source of goods in international trade.

It involves providing false information or documents that incorrectly declare the country of origin for the purpose of obtaining preferential treatment or circumventing trade barriers.

Mr Ntiri was speaking at the 8th Media Seminar for selected media organisations organised by the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) in Accra on the theme: “Contemporary Trends and Developments in Ghana’s Shipping and Logistics Industry.”

The Seminar served as a platform for the Authority to engage and educate the media on pertinent developments within the Shipping and Logistics sector and it also contributed to the ongoing industry-wide interventions aimed at enhancing the media’s appreciation of their role in advancing the interest of the sector.

He said the origin fraud could be done in making false documentation, Transshipment, and tariff engineering.

The Head of Exports speaking on the significance African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Certificate of Origin said countries may suffer substantial revenue losses when goods were wrongly declared as originating from countries with lower or zero tariff rates, resulting in a decrease in customs duties collected.

He said origin fraud could lead to unfair competition for legitimate exporters who comply with rules and accurately declare the origin of their goods, as fraudulent traders might enjoy advantages such as lower costs or preferential treatment.

“Origin fraud can undermine the integrity of trade agreements and erode trust among trading partners, potentially leading to disputes and destabilizing the international trading system and it is illegal and can result in legal action, penalties, fines, or sanctions against those involved in the fraudulent practice,” he added.

Mr Ntiri said the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Certificate of Origin (CoO) played a vital role in facilitating trade, ensuring transparency, promoting harmonization, and fostering economic integration among member states within the AfCFTA. 

He said the Certificate of Origin played a crucial role in facilitating international trade and this was used to determine the origin of the product and how much duties or taxes to pay on imported goods.

He said there were two main types of CoO, each serving different purposes in international trade; non-preferential Certificate of Origin and preferred Certificate of Origin.

He said with the non-preferred Certificate of Origin, it was used for goods that did not qualify for preferential treatment under trade agreements or Countries without trade agreements with the exporting country, while the preferred Certificate of Origin was used for goods that qualify for preferential treatment under bilateral or multilateral trade agreements or customs unions.

Ms. Benonita Bismarck, the Chief Executive Officer, GSA, said the Authority recognized the Media as an indispensable stakeholder in its Mission to effectively protect and promote the interest of shippers in Ghana.

She said to discharge this duty aptly required the dissemination of critical information to engage the shipping community meaningfully and this could not be achieved without the distinct professional services of the media.

“We appreciate you for your yeoman’s role of keeping shippers and the public informed about the shipping and logistics industry,” she said.

She said the theme was aimed at bringing to the fore the speedy evolvement of the Shipping and Logistics sector which is one of the key drivers of the socio-economic development of our country, given its very wide scope, reach and impact on its varied stakeholders, most importantly the numerous indirect beneficiaries of its output. 

“It is our intent that by the end of our interactions today, you will be equipped and empowered to take the story of the numerous positive developments in the sector to the world and you would particularly highlight the facilitating role of the GSA to ensure that the sector remained a viable propeller of socio-economic well-being for shippers (importers and exporters), the government as well as the citizenry of the country,” she added.

Some of the topics discussed include the impact of negotiated freight rates on the shipping and logistics Industry, the relevance of Certificates of Origin in the implementation of AfCFTA and payment of marine cargo insurance locally.

Source: GNA

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