- Market Overview
- Exporter Business Tips
- Market Entry Strategy
- Labeling Requirements
- Product Registration and Regulations
- Import Duties and Collections
- Documentations, Export and Customs Clearing Procedural Steps
- Method of Payment
- Contact Information
- The information in this guide was obtained from external sources, including the websites of various governmental agencies and organizations, direct contact with those agencies and organizations, and from Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Attaché reports. Consequently, the accuracy of this information depends upon the accuracy of the sources.
- TTB is not responsible for the content of external websites.
- This website was last updated on October 13, 2010.
Ghana is an important U.S. agricultural export market and offers expanding market opportunities due to its remarkable record of economic growth as well as its liberal import policies. Ghana’s estimated population of 23.4 million is growing at approximately 2.7 percent annually. Also, the Government of Ghana (GOG) is positioning Ghana as the gateway to the larger West African market (250 million people).
Ghana’s agricultural sector is largely subsistence-based, and employs over 60 percent of the population and contributes about 37 percent of GDP. The agricultural sector growth estimate for 2008 is 5 percent, up from 4.3 in 2007 due to improved rainfall during the year. Ghana’s agriculture consists of 80 percent crop production, 10 percent livestock, poultry and fishery production, and 10 percent forestry. Despite some growth in the agriculture sector, Ghana remains a major importer of agricultural food products and there is a high demand for imported food products, especially consumer ready products, due to limited selection of products provided by the underdeveloped domestic agricultural and food processing sector in Ghana.
It is highly recommended that U.S. exporters verify the full set of import requirements with their foreign customers, who are normally best equipped to research such matters with local authorities, before any goods are shipped. FINAL IMPORT APPROVAL OF ANY PRODUCT IS SUBJECT TO THE IMPORTING COUNTRY'S RULES AND REGULATIONS AS INTERPRETED BY BORDER OFFICIALS AT THE TIME OF PRODUCT ENTRY.
The Government of Ghana’s (GOG) regulatory body responsible for food product manufacturing, importation, exportation, advertisement and distribution is the Food and Drugs Board (FDB). The Food and Drugs Board was established and became fully operational in August 1997. The FDB was established to protect and promote public health by ensuring that food and drugs consumed in Ghana are wholesome and safe.
According to FDB (Food, Drugs and other Goods) General Labeling Rules, 1992, "food" includes "any article manufactured, sold or represented for use as food or drink for human consumption, chewing gum and any ingredient which may be mixed with food for any purpose whatsoever". Currently the Food and Drugs law is undergoing review and amendments to ensure that all food products, for example water, is included in the food law.
Ghana operates a relatively free market, and most tariffs are low. Ghana has stated its commitment to the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET) which it adopted in 2005 but has not started implementing yet. Although Ghana has been slow to take full advantage of the enhanced market access offered under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), it is increasing efforts in this area.
U.S. exporters are advised to explore entering the expanding Ghanaian market and U.S. agribusiness firms interested in doing business in Ghana can seek assistance of the USDA/FAS office in Accra to develop business relationships with local companies, importers, and agents.
Ghana aims to be the gateway to the larger West African market. Ghana is a significant exporter and importer, with total exports of all products estimated at $4.03 billion and imports estimated at $9.08 billion in 2008. Ghana’s agricultural product imports in 2008 are estimated to have remained at $1 billion according to unpublished customs data. Ghana is a major purchaser of U.S. rice (the largest in West Africa), poultry, and high-value food products. Wines and beer are considered among the consumer oriented products with the best prospects for the most sales potential.
Ghana’s food service sector consists of hotels, restaurants and institutional contracts (HRI).The HRI sector is valued above $500 million and has been expanding rapidly over the past five years. This sector represents a growing market for imported food ingredients. Growth in the HRI sector is driven by economic growth, changing consumption patterns, Ghana’s food service sector consists of hotels, restaurants and institutional contracts (HRI).
The HRI sector is valued above $500 million and has been expanding rapidly over the past five years. This sector represents a growing market for imported food ingredients. Growth in the HRI sector is driven by economic growth, changing consumption patterns, an expanding tourism sector. Increasing urbanization, more women working outside the home and changing lifestyle of the large youth population have led to greater consumption of western style convenience foods. The largest and fastest growing segment of HRI is the quick service restaurants (QSR) and this segment is expected to continue to experience strong growth as convenience QSRs become more and more important in the Ghanaian way of life. In the hotel segment, major international hotels are being built or renovated in Ghana including the Holiday Inn (operational), Marriot, Sheraton, Hilton, and others. Because of this growth, there is increased demand from the HRI sector for high-quality food ingredients, once again with U.S. products, such as wines and beer considered among the best market prospects.
The USDA’s FAS reports that the value of U.S. consumer oriented food exports to Ghana increased by 39 percent in 2008 from $25 million in 2007 to a record $41 million with wines and beer considered in the major components of this increase.
New-to-market exporters from the United States should consider the following market entry strategies and tactics:
Appoint a local agent/distributor or representative in Ghana to register the products with the appropriate GOG regulatory bodies, to introduce their products to the market, and to develop consumer demand. For assistance contact the FAS Office, U.S. Embassy, Accra-Ghana.
Identify and sell through consolidators based in the United States who are already serving the West African region. Exhibit at trade shows in the United States, which are attended by Ghanaian importers. This will also make follow-up contacts easier.
The General Labeling Rules, 1992, (L. I. 1514) of FDB require that food labeling be informative and accurate. There is no specific arrangement for labeling products in Ghana.
Ghana uses the Codex Alimentarius standards to formulate its labeling requirements.
The minimum labeling requirements are:
- Labeling should be in English. An English translation must be shown on the label or package insert (where applicable) if it is in another language;
- Name of product - brand name or common name should be in bold letters;
- The manufacturer/exporter’s full address including location;
- Country of origin must be provided on the product label. LI 1541 Ghana Standards Board (Food, Drugs and Other Goods) General Labeling Rule, 1992 Section 1(1) (i) states No person shall offer for sale, sell, distribute, import or otherwise dispose of prepackaged food or drug, unless the food or drug is marked or labeled with country of origin of the food or drug;
- Provide net mass/weight or net volume of content; specifying essential ingredients in metric weight for solids, semi-solids and aerosols, and metric volume for liquids;
- List ingredients by their common names in order of importance by weight. If the food is "standardized," the label must include only those ingredients which are optional for that standard;
- Food additives and colors must be stated on the label. Spices, flavors and colors may be listed as such, without naming the specific material, but any artificial color or flavor should be identified as such;
- Provide the production "batch" or lot number;
- Provide date of manufacture of products, expiry date or best use before date;
- Stick-on labels are not permitted;
There is no additional labeling for U.S. food imports if the standard U.S. label addresses the above-mentioned items. FDB accepts the Standard U.S. nutritional fact panel.
It is not a requirement in Ghana to include the FDB registration number on the product label.
The Food and Drugs Board (FDB) enforces the labeling laws at the ports of entry and at manufacturing sites in the country. In addition the FDB officials carry out routine inspections of imported goods at retail points to ensure that labeling regulations are followed. There are no exceptions to the labeling regulations. Failure to comply with the labeling regulations will compel the FDB to prohibit the importation, distribution, sale or use of any food product, temporarily or permanently, as well as impose a fine GHC 20,000 (about $14,280) against any product of a particular company for non compliance.
All processed food products must be registered with the Food and Drugs Board (FDB), Ghana, prior to being exported to Ghana. The importer typically pays for the cost of the product registration unless the exporter agrees to pay this cost. U.S. exporters are advised to contact the FAS/Accra office in Ghana when importers make such requests from them. The FDB is the GOG regulatory body for food product manufacturing, importation, advertisement and distribution in Ghana.
The GOG does not have specific requirements on beverage alcohol products other than those that apply to all processed products in general.
The Ghana Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) is the GOG institution responsible for the collection of import duty. In 2001 the Ghana TradeNet was established to provide a fully integrated customs management software connected over a network to various operators who interact with Customs in the processing of import and export transactions to and from Ghana. Some of these operators include the banks, shipping companies, certification and licensing agencies as well as users of trade information.
The Ghana TradeNet is made up of two main components:
- The Ghana Customs Management System (GCMS), which provides the CEPS with a fully integrated computerized system for the processing and management of Customs Declarations and related activities. This system is designed to work in an Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) environment, where Manifests and Single Administrative Documents (SAD) are electronically received and automatically processed. In 2003 Ghana moved away from the use of ASYCUDA in processing Customs Declarations. Instead Ghana adopted and modified a Direct Trader Input system (DTI) that provides for online submission of custom documents and duty payments.
- Ghana Community Network (GCNet) is a platform enabling GCMS to share data and other relevant information with all the parties involved in the processing of trade documents and customs clearances. The GCNet operates a seamless electronic system that links all trade operators, revenue agencies, and regulatory bodies through a "Single Window" system. The current set up contrasts sharply with the pre-GCNet situation, when trade operators had to shuttle from one agency to the other, while processing their trade and Customs transactions causing delays.
- Utilizing GCNet/GCSM, consignments could be cleared within 1-2 days (but practically it takes about five days) as opposed to an average of 2-3 weeks clearance time in the past.
There are various stages in the customs clearance processes of cargo from the ports of Ghana. The clearance process starts with the valuation of the cargo, declaration of cargo data on to the GCNET, payment of duty and other relevant cargos, verification at the Compliance Section of CEPS, release by the Shipping Agent, delivery by Ghana Ports and Harbors Authority (GPHA) and CEPS physical examination or scanning of cargo before cargo is allowed to exit the port. Importers must appoint a licensed Customs House Agent/clearing agent (Legislative Instrument 1178 1978) with a credible reputation for the clearance of cargo at any freight station in Ghana. The Clearing agent will do the following on your behalf:
- All consignments imported into the country must be valued for tax and other purposes.
- Submit the final invoice, Import Declaration Form (IDF) from the Ministry of Trade & Industry, a copy of the Bill of Lading and Packing list (itemizing the value of the packages) two weeks before arrival of vessel to the designated Destination Inspection Company [DIC] for preparation of the Final Classification and Valuation Report (FCVR). The FCVR contains an assessment of the Dutiable Value, Import duty and VAT of the consignment;
- Pick up the Final Classification and Valuation Report [FCVR] from the DIC. Containerized cargo selected for scanning through the Risk Management System procedure of the Destination Inspection Companies is also indicated in the FCVR.
Payment of Duty:
- Print out a hard copy of the response from GCMS and submit the signed Customs Declaration and attach all supporting documents such as the Bill of Lading, the Invoice, the IDF, the FCVR, the Packing List, an IRS Certificate as well as other relevant permits and documents at either of the GCNet participating banks (i.e. ECOBANK, Ghana Commercial Bank) in order to make payment. Special Bank Receipts are given to importers or their representatives to acknowledge payment.
- A hard copy of the Declaration, the Bank receipt, and Bill of Lading and all other relevant attaching documents are submitted to the designated Officer at CEPS Compliance Section for Verification of the documents and receipts;
- When no discrepancy is found, the cargo is ruled for First Release [i.e. 'prior to physical examination] or Final Release [i.e. without physical examination];
- Submit a hard copy of the Customs Declaration, the Bank receipt, and Bill of Lading and all other relevant documentation as well as the Delivery Order (earlier purchased from the Shipping Agent) to the Shipping Agents. This is to facilitate preparation of the cargo for physical examination pending release or immediate release as recommended by the CEPS Compliance Office;
- The Delivery Order, (DO) which is in triplicate (green, pink and white or yellow) copies, must contain information such as the name of the consignee, name of vessel, date of arrival, port of loading and the particulars of cargo as indicated in the bill of lading. Other information that must be provided on the delivery order include the Customs House Agent handling the cargo, the bill of lading number; the container number; the seal number and the rotation number of the vessel;
- The Shipping Agent, on receipt of the documents, then prepares the bill for the consignment. After payment of the bill the cargo is authorized for release at the Port;
- Effect payment of the relevant GPHA charges at the port;
- Deposit the green copy of the DO with the GPHA Operations for the container to be dropped within 24 hours at the designated bay for physical examination by CEPS, if necessary;
- Present Declaration and accompanying documents to CEPS at the port gate to confirm clearance on the GCMS. GPHA security also checks the waybill covering the goods before the goods leave the port.
The documentation process for all imports is as follows:
- Import Declaration Form (IDF) covering the goods should be completed and signed by the importer and submitted before importation of goods;
- Single Administrative Document (SAD), a customs form designed for all customs transactions including imports and exports, must be completed and submitted to CEPS;
- Shipment Notification Forms: the importer needs to complete Ghana Shippers Council Shipment Forms for sea shipment;
- Insurance: Insurance coverage should be obtained in Ghana but it is not a pre-condition for importation. However the importer has to produce evidence of an insurance policy before banks will agree to open a letter of credit.
Other Documents supporting customs entry forms are:
- Suppliers Invoice: this must be in duplicate and attested
- Packing list
- Bill of Lading / Airway Bill/Parcel Post delivery.
- The inspection agency shall, pursuant to the inspection, issue one of the following reports of findings:
- Final Customs Valuation Report (FCVR) if the inspection yields a satisfactory result
- A Gateway Lock (GWL) if the inspection reveals discrepancies which cannot be rectified by the importer
- The importer must present his original copy of the FCVR to the Customs Excise and Preventative Service (CEPS) at the time of clearing the goods;
- At the same time, the importer shall pay to CEPS the total duties and taxes of CIF value of the goods;
- Special Requirements: Foods, Drugs, and some other goods imported into Ghana are required to be clearly marked or labeled as required by the General Labeling Rules, 1992, (L.I. 1514); Inspections and clearances by FDB, Ghana Standards Board (GSB), the Ghana Narcotics Control Board (NCD), Veterinary Service (VET) and other agencies stationed at the ports.
Flow Chart: Import Documentation Procedures
Obtains Proforma Invoice, Completes IDF
Arranges with Bankers and Opens
An Irrevocable LC
Receives notification of LC
Cargo is shipped, Sends Bill of Lading
Arranges for Destination Inspection with GSL or GSBV, Collects approved FCVR, completes Clearing SAD with CEPS, clearance by FDB, GSD, NCB VET.
The standard rate of duty for most food products is 20% (e.g. milled rice). Raw materials for further processing, however, are levied a duty of only 10% (e.g. wheat). A general exemption from payment on the import duty can be granted on items such as ingredients for the manufacture of poultry feeds, if certified as such by the Ministry of Agriculture.
Other taxes follow:
- Value Added Tax (VAT) is 12.5%;
- National Health Insurance Levy (NHIL) is 2.5% to be collected by the VAT Secretariat;
- Export Development and Investment Fund Levy (EDIF) is 0.5%;
- Inspection fee of 1%;
- ECOWAS Levy 0.5%‟
- Ghana Customs Network (GCNET) of 0.4%.
Remember that the USDA FAS office in Accra Ghana is willing to provide assistance to USExporters in contacting a local importer and navigating import duties and taxes.
Letters of Credit (LC) are generally accepted as the method used in the payment of imported goods. The LC can be irrevocable or confirmed. Due to delays most importers utilize inter-bank wire transfers for the payment of their imported goods. The exporter simply ships the items to importer upon receipt of his bank transfer payments. This method has been helpful in speeding up the process. To establish an LC a Bank may require a signed proforma invoice (attested), IDF, pre-shipment notification from the Ghana Shippers Council, Marine insurance (normally covered in Ghana but not a precondition). This is a long process and could take more than two weeks. Upon receipt of the bank transfer the cargo is then shipped to Ghana. The shipment time by sea from the U.S. to Ghana, on the average takes three weeks. Air transport is about a day. It is advised that confirmed, irrevocable letters of credit opened by Ghanaian banks with correspondent banks in the United States be used to guarantee payment.
There are various stages in the customs clearance processes of cargo from the ports of Ghana. The clearance process starts with the valuation of the cargo, declaration of cargo data on to the GCNET, payment of duty and other relevant cargos, verification at the Compliance Section of CEPS, release by the Shipping Agent, delivery by Ghana Ports and Harbors Authority (GPHA) and CEPS physical examination or scanning of cargo before cargo is allowed to exit the port. Importers must appoint a licensed Customs House Agent/clearing agent (Legislative Instrument 1178 1978) with a credible reputation for the clearance of cargo at any freight station in Ghana.
Government Regulatory Agency Contacts:
1. Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni.
The Chief Executive
Food and Drugs Board
PO Box CT 2783, Cantonment, Accra, Ghana
2. Mr. Odame-Darkwa
Head of Food Safety Section of Food and Drugs Board
PO Box CT 2783, Accra
Other Import Specialist Contacts:
Mrs Elizabeth Aditola
Director of Standards
PO Box MB 245, Accra
USDA Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS)
Regional Agricultural Counselor
Agricultural Affairs Office
2, Walter Carrington Crescent
Victoria Island, Lagos-Nigeria
Telephone: (234) 1 261-3926, 775-0830
Fax: (234) 1 262-9835
Elmasoeur Z. Ashitey
Agricultural Affairs (USDA/FAS)
24 Fourth Circular Rd., Cantonments, Accra, Ghana