Ghana food exports face EU blacklist


The European Union (EU) has placed food imports, including fish, from Ghana on red alert after series of consignments to the region were found to have been smuggled or mislabelled.

The union has since the beginning of this
year issued more than 50 alerts on the issue in which it repeatedly warned
“Ghanaian authorities” that the continuous smuggling and mislabelling of
products into the region would result in the blacklisting of our food imports.

The EU is one of the country’s biggest
export destination for canned tuna and other fish types.

Beyond the warnings, documents available
to the Graphic Business indicate that EU officials are already subjecting food
imports from Ghana to tougher checks, after moving the country from the
category of a moderate risk importer to a high risk importer.

Notable among the food products identified
are groundnut kernels, peanut butter, smoked fish, tinned mackerel and palm

On July 9, the EU Directorate-General for
Health and Food Safety issued a dossier to the Ghana Mission in Brussels,
detailing instances of Ghanaian exporters smuggling unacceptable food products
into Europe in the first half of the year.

The mission
is also in charge of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the EU.

Rejection notice

One of the EU documents, titled ‘border
rejection notification,’ on the illegal export of smoked fish, said: “The
exporter (name withheld) with approval number GH00001522 has been notified four
times in the past three months and Ghana has been notified 12 times in relation
to attempts to illegally import in the past six months”.

Another said: “Ghana has been notified 13
times in relation to attempts to illegally import groundnut kernels in the past
six months”.

“Product rejected due to lack of health certificate and aflatoxin test report
as per 884/2014 and attempt to illegally import a controlled product into the
UK, another notice said.”

The paper understands that these products
were sent illegally out of the country, meaning that they were smuggled under
the noses of law enforcement officers at the relevant ports of exit.

As a result, some of them were mislabelled
while others were not labelled at all or not declared in the accompanying
export documents, one of the notifications said.


A source familiar with the EU border
control systems told the Daily Graphic in an interview on August 9 that
whenever there was a non-conforming product arriving at the EU borders, they
raised an alert against the country from which the products were being

“So all these documents are official alert
notifications which have been raised against Ghana,” the source said. 
The source explained that for certain sensitive products, the EU required
certain specific certifications accompanying them so that once the products did
not have the right certifications, they would be rejected at the border.

“So it works like a traffic light system,
when everything is fine, it is green but when your country starts exporting
non-conforming products, you are warned and these are the warnings, so it is
like get ready, if you do not find a way of preventing these food products into
the EU, Ghana is going to be stopped completely from exporting food products
that fall into these categories into the region,” the source said.

Weak export regime

Reacting to the development, the Director
General of the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), Professor Alex Dodoo, told the
Daily Graphic in an interview last Monday that the current regime for
pre-export inspections needed to be tightened to prevent EU sanctions.

“The current regime for inspections prior
to exports lacks rigour with several products not being accompanied by the
necessary export and testing certificates and it requires an urgent and radical
overhaul to bring it in line with international best practices,” he said.  
However, the Director of Multilateral, Regional and Bilateral Trade at the
Ministry of Trade and Industry, Mr Anthony Nyame-Baafi, in a separate interview
last Friday, said although the rejection notifications had not come to his
notice, when such issues came up, the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue
Authority (GRA) would be alerted to be extra vigilant to ensure that food
products with special requirements were accompanied with the right

“We alert Customs so that they conduct due
diligence when they are screening to ensure that these smugglings are curbed,”
he said.

Right certification

He explained that some food products such
as fish required certification from the GSA due to an arrangement with the EU
Commission to ensure that they met the standards of the EU market but were
sometimes smuggled by travellers who may not necessarily be exporters. 

He said the ministry would, therefore,
ensure that exporters were educated on the need to secure the right
certification to reduce the rate of rejection.

“Based on the notifications, we advise the
exporters and we alert the Exporters Association or the Federation of
Associations of Ghanaian Exporters (FAGE) that they should engage the people.

“So the more we educate the people, we become more convinced that the rejection rate will minimise,” Mr Nyame-Baafi said.  

Source: Graphic Online


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