Liberia: 'Shipping to Liberia to Get More Expensive,' LCC Warns

Downtown Monrovia

As NPA rolls out new platform which, Liberia Chamber of Commerce says, "adds no value"

The Liberia Chamber of Commerce has warned the Liberian government of imminent and severe food and other assorted goods shortages if it implements the Cargo Tracking Note (CTN) deal with Global Maritime Tracking Solution (GMTS).

The CTN deal, which is implemented by the Government of Liberia (GoL) through the National Port Authority (NPA) in partnership with GTMS, will see the company tracking all containers coming to and passing through all seaports in the country at an additional cost of US$175.

An LCC statement said the move by the government is duplicating requirements that are already being complied with by the importers of cargoes into the country, and it will also pose an additional financial burden on businesses and consumers.

"It also makes shipping to Liberia more expensive for suppliers outside of the country and adds no value to export and import. The essence of the GMTS agreement is to allow one company to make money from importers and exporters' own information generated during their purchases and sales internationally," the LCC said.

The LCC's statement further added that, at present, they are still in limbo as to how much the fees per container could be, as GMTS, in its own presentation at their office, indicated it would charge up to 120 Euros per container, while suppliers have stated that they are being charged up to 480 Euros per container.

"The NPA is planning to start this process this month, ignoring the concerns of the LCC, which were communicated to them in a letter dated January 25, 2019.

"Because of this action, the suppliers are currently refusing to ship pending cargoes until the issue can be sorted out. This means there will be an imminent scarcity of commodities on the Liberian market when the current goods available are consumed," the statement added.

Meanwhile, the LCC also said unlike BIVAC (Bureau Veritas Group Company), GMTS as a company is not fully prepared to take on this new challenge due to their lack of representatives around the world.

"They will simply rely on importers' own documents to provide the service they proposed to deliver. Clearly, the online platform that GMTS is keen to introduce cannot guarantee any due diligence in comparison with the existing system BIVAC, Commerce and ASYCUDA are offering," the statement said.

Due to negative effects the GMTS agreement will have on the country's economy, the LCC statement noted that the government must halt the implementation of the agreement and must also agree to their request for a meeting to harmonize the situation before it escalates into a matter that could create tension in stakeholders of the economy.

The GMTS agreement, according to a local daily, was signed under the leadership of Celia Cuffy-Browne as Acting Managing Director and approved by Bill Twehway, who is now the Managing Director of the NPA.

To ensure its determination to enforce the decision, the National Port Authority, in a statement to stakeholders, especially importers, exporters and carriers, noted that the Cargo Tracking Note/Advanced Cargo Declaration (CTN/ACD) system started from January 1, 2019, for all shipments to any destination port, including transit through Liberia. Shippers, exporters and forwarders at the various ports of loading around the world are therefore required to obtain a validated CTN number in order to use its online platform.

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