The World Bank Group has called on the government of Ghana to, as a matter of urgency, tighten its consumer protection standards to promote the health, safety and security of consumers.
According to the World Bank Group’s Senior Director of Global Practice on Trade and Competitiveness, Anabel Gonzalez, Ghanaian authorities must dedicate serious attention to clearing the country’s market of fake and substandard goods to safeguard the well-being of citizens.
“There is the need for a country to have consumer protection standards and I think this is very relevant to promote the health, safety, security of consumers,” she told the B&FT.
“What we have found in many places is that the problem lies more, sometimes, in the lack of a clear feeling for consumer protection. We have also seen lack of standard in Ghana particularly, the weak implementation of standards that already exist. Now, there is nothing in trade agreement which is incomparable in protecting consumer standards.”
Anabel Gonzalez further stated that, “the Ghanaian government must also have investments, which is very necessary, for example, in laboratories and train personnel that may be able to actually verify compliance with those standards.”
The World Bank group, she said, will be training the Ghanaian government in the area of competitiveness in global practices, and to put in place quality infrastructure that will support consumer protection objectives in the country.
Ghana, on January 4, 2017, become the 104th World Trade Organisation (WTO) member to ratify the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), reducing the number of member countries needed to ratify the Agreement and bring it into force to six.
Meanwhile, many have become worried over Ghana having ratified the TFA, as they believe, there will be an increase in the influx of substandard foreign products on the Ghanaian market, which could collapse several indigenous industries.
Business associations like the AGI, PEF, GUTA and GCCI have often raised concerns over the influx of sub-standard goods onto the Ghanaian market and they have asked for serious attention from government and all well-meaning Ghanaians to stop the practice.
According to the business associations, in a country where requisite standards in all spheres of life are being compromised, it is obvious that the consequences could be detrimental.
Anabel Gonzalez told the B&FT, however, that the issue of substandard goods inundating the Ghanaian market should also be tackled in a preventive approach, instead of a combative one, by the authorities responsible if they really mean to tackle the menace in Ghana.
She said Ghana ratifying the trade facilitation agreement of the WTO allows the country to be a greater participant of the global economy.
“Ghana recently ratified the trade facilitation agreement of the WTO. This is very important because if a country is going to engage in the global economy, by exporting more and importing more, you need to reduce trade cost, to make your customs more efficient. This also allows you to reduce the cost of duration of exports and imports. One important thing is: the TFA will promote border coordination between government agencies and you need to put in place a risk management system which helps in the movement of goods.
And the trade facilitation agreement provides a very conducive umbrella to undertake a very important reform and we at the world stand ready to support Ghana in this area and I think this is one part which is very important in this area.”