The Ministry of Trade and Industry has said it will, through a Legislative Instrument, place a ceiling on the annual importation of cement into the country in a bid to “sanitise the sector” and protect local manufacturers from unfair competition.
Also, in a bid to shore-up local raw cashew nuts processing, the Trade and Industry Ministry has said no export of the commodity will be entertained until after 31 May, 2016.
In a press statement signed by the minister, Mr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, the ministry said local cement manufacturers have a 9million tonne annual capacity while consumption is below 6million tonnes, leaving an excess capacity of 3million tonnes.
Meanwhile, over one million tonnes of cement is imported into the country annually — which the ministry says “places additional pressure on local manufacturers”.
Cement importers, the ministry said, will henceforth be issued a permit “to avoid the chaos that has lately saddled the sector”.
The ministry has therefore given all cement importers up to 31st March to register with it, even though it said companies that are legitimately licenced under the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme are exempted from the need to apply for a permit.
In recent months, the ministry said, there have been claims and counter-claims from different interest groups in the cement industry regarding alleged low-priced dumping of imported cement on the market. Other complaints have centred on the value at which the Ghana Revenue Authority should rate cement imported into the country.
The ministry therefore believes the measures it is taking will help resolve the accusations and ensure industrial peace. The press statement invited “opinions and recommendations” from interested parties in the sector.
On cashew, the statement said: “Any raw cashew nuts that are brought to ports or borders of Ghana for export between 31 March and 31st May, 2016 shall be confiscated to the state,” a press statement signed by the minister, Mr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, warned.
Currently, the ministry said, as much as 95% of the country’s total production of raw cashew nuts — estimated at 68,000 metric tonnes — is exported for processing, leading to severe underutilisation of local processing capacity.
“Processing raw cashew nuts into cashew kernels in Ghana increased from 4,200 MT in 2009 to 17,600MT — but this has plummeted, reaching a very low figure 2,500MT in 2015. This implies that the industry is operating at just 5% of its installed processing capacity of 65,890MT.”
The statement said local processors are unable to obtain adequate supplies due to “intense competition” at the farm-gate with exporters.
“This situation is stifling the ministry’s objective of promoting value addition under the National Export Development Programme 2016-2020, which seeks to increase earnings from the Non-Traditional Export sector.”