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What are the trade barriers, or tariffs in place - Ghana?

Ghana, with its stable political environment, growing economy, and strategic location in West Africa, presents an attractive market for businesses looking to expand. However, understanding the country's trade barriers and tariffs is crucial for a successful market entry strategy. This guide provides a thorough overview of the various trade barriers and tariffs in Ghana, offering insights for businesses to navigate the landscape effectively.

Tariff Regime

Ghana, as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), generally adheres to a common external tariff (CET) regime. The CET is a system of standardized tariffs applied by member countries to goods originating from non-member countries. The purpose of the CET is to promote regional trade integration and simplify customs procedures.

The CET structure in Ghana is divided into five bands:

  • 0%: Social goods (e.g., medicines, publications)

  • 5%: Raw materials

  • 10%: Intermediate goods

  • 20%: Finished goods

  • 35%: Specific sectors the government seeks to protect (e.g., poultry, rice)

While the CET provides a general framework, Ghana maintains exceptions to these rates for specific products. Additionally, there are additional levies and taxes applied to imports, such as the value-added tax (VAT) and the National Health Insurance Levy (NHIL). Businesses should consult the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) for the most up-to-date and product-specific tariff rates.

Non-Tariff Barriers

In addition to tariffs, Ghana employs various non-tariff barriers (NTBs) to regulate trade. These measures are designed to protect domestic industries, ensure consumer safety, and meet international standards. Understanding these NTBs is crucial for businesses to avoid delays and additional costs.

  1. Import Licensing: Certain products, such as pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and agricultural products, require import licenses from relevant government agencies. These licenses are granted based on compliance with specific quality, safety, and technical standards.

  2. Standards and Conformity Assessment: Ghana, like many countries, has adopted international standards for various products. Imported goods must meet these standards to ensure safety and quality. The Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) is responsible for conformity assessment and certification.

  3. Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures: These measures are implemented to protect human, animal, and plant health from risks associated with pests, diseases, and contaminants. Imported food products, live animals, and plants must comply with these measures.

  4. Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT): These barriers include technical regulations, standards, and conformity assessment procedures that can hinder trade. However, Ghana, as a WTO member, is committed to ensuring that its TBT measures are not overly restrictive or discriminatory.

  5. Import Bans and Restrictions: Ghana has banned the importation of certain products, such as used clothing, used tires, and certain types of plastics, to protect domestic industries and the environment. Restrictions also apply to specific products, such as poultry and rice, to safeguard local producers.

Navigating Trade Barriers and Tariffs in Ghana

  1. Conduct Thorough Research: Understand the specific tariff rates and NTBs applicable to your products. Consult relevant government agencies, such as the GRA and the GSA, for accurate and up-to-date information.

  2. Engage with Local Experts: Consider partnering with local distributors, agents, or consultants who are familiar with Ghana's trade regulations and can help you navigate the complexities of the market.

  3. Comply with Standards and Regulations: Ensure that your products meet Ghana's standards and comply with all relevant regulations. This will help avoid delays and additional costs.

  4. Obtain Necessary Licenses and Permits: Apply for import licenses and permits well in advance to avoid delays in customs clearance.

  5. Monitor Changes in Regulations: Stay informed about changes in Ghana's trade policies and regulations. These changes can impact your market entry strategy and require adjustments to your operations.


While Ghana's trade barriers and tariffs can present challenges for businesses, understanding and navigating them is essential for successful market entry. By conducting thorough research, complying with regulations, and engaging with local experts, businesses can overcome these obstacles and tap into the vast potential of the Ghanaian market.

Disclaimer: This guide is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Businesses should consult with relevant professionals for specific advice regarding their individual circumstances.

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