Ghana - Country Commercial Guide
Trade Barriers

Includes the barriers (tariff and non-tariff) that U.S. companies face when exporting to this country.

Last published date: 2020-08-30

Nontariff Barriers and Import Restrictions

Since 2014, Ghana has limited the quantity of import permits issued for poultry and poultry products, although the current government no longer enforces a domestic purchase requirement as a condition for import. In 2018, the State Minister of Agriculture halted the issuance and renewal of poultry import permits for local traders in an effort to improve competitiveness and productivity in the domestic sector. The Ghanaian government claims that traders import three to four times Ghana’s annual consumption demand but has not provided supporting data. Ghana has banned the importation of tilapia since 2014 in order to protect local fishermen. Ghana requires certificates for imports of food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and agricultural goods.

Customs Barriers and Trade Facilitation

Ghanaian customs practices and port infrastructure continue to present major obstacles to trade. Officials have introduced risk-management approaches, such as the Pre-Arrival Assessment Reporting System. However, the majority of imports are still subject to inspection on arrival, causing delays and increased costs. Importers report erratic application of customs and other import regulations, lengthy clearance procedures, and corruption. The resulting delays can contribute to product deterioration and result in significant losses for importers of perishable goods. Additionally, Ghana’s ports suffer from congested roads and lack a functioning rail system to transport freight, creating long waits for ships to berth at cargo terminals and for containers to be transported out of the ports. Ghana Ports and Harbor Authority (GPHA) is working to modernize both the Ports of Tema and Takoradi. Ghana has launched several initiatives over the past couple of years to support online information and processing of trade transactions, including the development of a National Single Window. 

In July 2018, the GRA launched the Cargo Tracking Notes (CTN) system, an online platform meant to confirm import authenticity, which requires imports to have a CTN number to clear Customs. 

In January 2017, Ghana ratified the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). As a developing country Member of the WTO, Ghana availed itself of the implementation flexibilities in Section II of the TFA. However, Ghana has failed to notify its Category B commitments with indicative dates, which were due to the WTO Secretariat by entry into force of the Agreement, February 22, 2017, and its Category B definitive dates, which were due February 28, 2018. Ghana also has failed to designate the over 90 percent of its outstanding commitments in Section I of the Agreement. Ghana has yet to provide the relevant information regarding its indicative Category B or C notifications.

Technical Barriers to Trade

Ghana issues its own standards for most products under the auspices of the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA). The GSA has 2,485 national standards on, inter alia, building materials, food and agricultural products, household products, electrical goods, and pharmaceuticals. The Ghanaian Food and Drugs Authority is responsible for enforcing standards for food, drugs, cosmetics, and health items. Some imports are classified as “high risk goods” (HRG) that must be inspected by GSA officials at the port to ensure they meet Ghanaian standards. The GSA classifies these HRGs into 20 broad groups, including food products, electrical appliances, and used goods. U.S. stakeholders have found this classification system vague and confusing. For example, the category of “alcoholic and nonalcoholic products” could include anything from beverages to pharmaceuticals to industrial products. According to GSA officials, these imports are classified as high risk because they pose “potential hazards,” although that phrase remains undefined in law or regulation.

Importers of HRGs must register and obtain approval from GSA prior to importing any of these goods. In particular, as part of this approval, the importer must submit to GSA a sample of the good, accompanied by a certificate of analysis (COA) or a certificate of conformance (COC) from an accredited laboratory in the country of export. Frequently, GSA officials will conduct a physical examination of the goods and check labeling and marking requirements to ensure that they are released within 48 hours. Currently, the fee for registering the first three HRGs is GH₵100 (about $20) and GH₵50 (about $10) for each additional product, valid for one year and subject to renewal. Any HRG presented to enter Ghana without a COC or COA from an accredited laboratory is detained and subjected to testing by the GSA. If the product is detained, the importer is required to pay the testing fee based on the number of products and the parameters tested.

The GSA requires that all food products carry expiration and shelf life dates. Expiration dates must extend at least to half the projected shelf life at the time the product reaches Ghana. Goods that do not have half of their shelf life remaining are seized at the port of entry and destroyed. The United States has raised this latter requirement with Ghana in recent years and questioned the requirement’s consistency with the Codex Alimentarius Commission General Standard for Labeling of Pre-packaged Foods.

Sanitary and Phytosanitary Barriers

To address human health risks, Ghana prohibits the importation of meat with a fat content by weight greater than 25 percent for beef; 25 percent for pork; 15 percent for poultry; and 30 percent for mutton. Imported turkeys must have their oil glands removed. Ghana also restricts the importation of condensed or evaporated milk with less than 8 percent milk fat by weight and dried milk or milk powder containing less than 26 percent by weight of milk fat, with the exception of imported skim milk in containers.