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: 2022-03-24

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.  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.

Since May 1, 2019, Ghana has placed a temporary ban on the importation of excavators to regulate its use in illegal mining, which has adversely affected the business of a U.S. excavator supplier to Ghana.

The Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Service enforces these provisions and works to prevent smuggling in addition to collecting duties and other taxes.

Customs Barriers and Trade Facilitation

Ghanaian customs practices and port infrastructure continue to present obstacles to trade. Officials have introduced risk-management approaches, such as the Pre-Arrival Assessment Reporting System. However, approximately 60% of imports are still subject to inspection on arrival by the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Service, 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.

The new Integrated Customs Management Systems (ICUMS) platform processes documents and payments through a single window that provides an end-to-end trade facilitation and automated customs operation and management system. The ICUMS fee is 0.75 percent of the Free on Board (FOB) value of imports. In addition, for some products, Ghana may apply a one percent customs processing fee which is assessed on Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF) plus the duty on the import. For further information about how to comply with this system, contact U.S. Commercial Service Ghana at office.accra@trade.gov or +233(0)30-274-1870.

Additional potential reforms to Ghana’s customs regime have been negotiated at the World Trade Organization (WTO).  According to the U.S. Trade Representative’s National Trade Estimate Report, Ghana ratified the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in 2017, but it has not yet submitted transparency notifications related to: (1) the operation of the single window and (2) the use of customs brokers.  Those notifications were due to the WTO on July 22, 2021, according to Ghana’s self-designated implementation schedule. Ghana has not yet notified its customs valuation legislation to the WTO, nor has it responded to the Checklist of Issues that describes how the Customs Valuation Agreement is being implemented.

Technical Barriers to Trade/Standards

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. Under a new process called the EasyPASS Program, either Bureau Veritas or Intertek, after successful verification, issues an EasyPASS Certificate (certificate of conformity), which is used to facilitate customs clearance in Ghana. Upon arrival of goods at a port in Ghana, the GSA checks the validity of the EasyPASS certificate before releasing a consignment for clearance. Contact U.S. Commercial Service Ghana at office.accra@trade.gov or +233(0)30-274-1870 for the latest information about conformity assessment in this area.

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. There is an exception for imported skim milk in containers.