The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has indicated that while it takes steps to facilitate trade, it was expected that stakeholders also position themselves to comply with the Public Health Act and the Authority's guidelines regarding the registration and importation or exportation of regulated products.

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It is important in ensuring a win-win situation where the FDA as a regulatory institution was not only concerned with regulation but trade facilitation as well, and the trading community was not only concerned with trade facilitation but protection of public health as well.

Madam Akua Amartey, FDA Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Technical Operation this at a day's forum organized by the Ghana Shipper's Authority (GSA) in partnership with the FDA to sensitize shippers on ways to address import permit application challenges as part of efforts to tackle the growing Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) and support trade facilitation.

The forum was on the theme: "The Role of FDA Addressing Import Permit Application Challenges To Facilitate Trade."

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Mr. Emmanuel Kwarteng, Ag. Director, Centre for Import and Export Control, FDA

Madam Amartey said having already engaged stakeholders through a session, the FDA commenced the enforcement of the prohibition of the importation of unregistered regulated products, popularly known as 'No Registration, No Importation'.

She said the forum was to allow the Authority to inform the stakeholders on how the enforcement has fared during the one-year implementation, and address the challenges while bringing to their attention new structures put in place to facilitate trade and to further improve the ease of doing business with the FDA.

She said the new structures, which mainly bordered on making registration and permit issuance a lot easier to comply with, were intended to increase compliance and, in the final analyses, help to better protect the health and safety of the Ghanaian consumer, which included everyone.

Touching on the Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs), Mr. Charles Darling Sey, GSA Tema Branch Manager said the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), estimated that such NTBs, were at least three times more restrictive than regular customs duties.

He added a UNCTAD report, also suggested that African countries could gain US$ 20 billion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, by tackling such barriers at the continental level.

"Ghana and for that matter, shippers cannot allow simple processing of FDA permits to add on to the NTBs which may have the potential to prevent the hard-working importers or exporters from meeting deadlines of cargo delivery due to simple processing of registration and permit acquisition at the FDA,"

He also noted that the Authority is collaborating with allied institutions and stakeholders to address shipper-related issues to enhance Ghana's trade facilitation effort to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

Mr. Sey said the GSA, has a mandate to ensure the safe delivery of cargo, resolution of recurrent shipment problems, and ensure that charges paid at the Ports were commensurate with the services rendered.

He added that the GSA has collaborated with private and public organizations to undertake advocacy for shippers in Ghana about port, air, and inland transport to ensure safe, reliable, seamless, and cost-effective delivery of cargo.

He said GSA regularly confers with its primary stakeholders across the country to access firsthand information on trade-related issues to find practical ways to meet their needs through various means such as regular sensitization and education programs.

The Tema GSA Branch Manager noted that one of such collaborations was the one-day sensitization programme, which was born out of the GSA's regular engagements with stakeholders to identify shipment-related challenges to make timely interventions towards their resolution.

He said the FDA needed to be supported to execute its mandate, which included enforcing standards for food, drugs, cosmetics, household chemicals, medical supplies, biological products, tobacco, and substances of abuse to protect imports and exports.

Mr. Sey encouraged shippers to know the FDA requirements to expedite clearing and forwarding processes at the Ports, adding that the GSA believed that the time to raise awareness of the need for the FDA permit was now.

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The FDA exist to ensure the safety, quality and efficacy of human and veterinary drugs, food, biological products, cosmetics, medical devices, household chemical substances and clinical trials, and the control of tobacco products through the enforcement of relevant standards to protect public health.

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