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Ghana Import Permits

Although Ghana is a major exporter of oil, gas, cocoa, and gold, among other products, it remains a net importer of other products.  Ghanaian officials have made several attempts to curb imports, including encouraging Ghanaians to buy locally produced goods through campaigns such as Think Ghana, Grow Ghana, Eat Ghana, and Wear Ghana.  In the fall of 2022, the Ghanaian Finance Ministry proposed to direct the issuance of foreign exchange away from importers who purchase certain imported goods.  

In another variation of that approach, in November 2023, the Ghanaian Ministry of Trade and Industry submitted to the parliament a draft Legislative Instrument (L.I.) called the Import Restrictions Bill.  It would require importers of 22 specific items to seek import permits from a committee that would be set up by the Minister of Trade.  The degree to which import permits or licenses would be automatic was not clear. 

The items on the list include several that are major U.S. exports to Ghana, including poultry, automobiles, and polymers (plastics and plastic products), in particular.  The other goods on the list include rice, guts, bladders and stomach of animals, animal and vegetable oil, margarine, fruit juices, soft drinks, mineral water, noodles and pasta, ceramic tiles, corrugated paper and paper board, mosquito coil and insecticides, soaps and detergents, iron and steel, cement, fish, sugar, clothing and apparel, biscuits, and canned tomatoes.  For all of these categories, there is domestic Ghanaian production.  However, there is not always sufficient quantities to fully supply the domestic Ghanaian market.  This is especially the case in terms of rice, poultry, and automobiles.  

While this proposal garnered support from groups such as the Association of Ghana Industries, other domestic stakeholders such as the Ghana Union Traders Association, the Food and Beverage Association of Ghana, the Ghana Agricultural Workers Union, the Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana, the Chamber of Automobile Dealers Ghana, the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders and the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry opposed it.  Foreign Embassies and international suppliers to Ghana generally were not consulted about the measure and it was not notified to the World Trade Organization. 

The concerns raised by domestic Ghanaian stakeholders about the measure included: 
raising domestic prices (which are already high due to inflation); creating possible supply monopolies; hindering the flow of goods from exporting countries; and exacerbating smuggling, leading to official tariff and tax revenue loss. These stakeholders also  expressed concerns about how the permitting process would be administered and its relationship to Ghana’s trade commitments under the WTO and the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.  

The measure has subsequently been withdrawn by the Ministry of Trade and Industry while it holds wider consultations with stakeholders.  The Ministry has launched a formal consultations process on its Business Regulatory Reform portal where interested stakeholders can present their comments. The specific link where stakeholders can submit their comments is here. The deadline to provide comments is January 31st, 2024. 

U.S. companies that could potentially be affected by such an import permitting system could also provide a copy of their stakeholder input to CS Ghana so that the U.S. Embassy has the input for its own interventions on this measure. To do so, and for more information about doing business in Ghana, please contact CS Ghana at or Telephone +233(0)30-274-1870.  Please see our Country Commercial Guide and our wide range of market intelligence reports.