UK-Ghana trade is in limbo with a continuity deal not agreed between the two countries before the end of the transition period.
Ghana is one of many countries the UK previously had preferential trading arrangements with through its membership of the EU.
Civil servants have spent the past three years trying to preserve this market access, but a deal was not reached with Ghana before the UK completed its split from the EU on 31 December 2020, thereby ending its membership of EU trade deals.
The lack of a rollover deal has resulted in a 185-tonne consignment of Ghanaian bananas arriving at Portsmouth on Sunday, only to be faced with £17,500 in duties under the UK’s new tariff rules for countries it doesn’t have a trade deal with.
George Kporye, administration manager of the banana importer Golden Exotics, called for the tariffs to be waived and a deal to be concluded swiftly.
“We had to reduce volumes because of the uncertainties of reaching a deal on time,” he told Bloomberg.
The legal text on a continuity deal is expected to be finalised in the next few weeks.
Currently reduced duty rates can be applied to imports from Ghana as the country is included in the UK’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences.
The UK exports over £700m to Ghana and imports almost £500m – including cocoa, bananas, oil and fish.
British negotiators managed to get 62 trade deals in place before the end of 2020.
An 11th-hour deal with Turkey was finalised over Christmas, after Britain’s trade agreement with Brussels.
However, agreements with Albania, Algeria and Serbia, as well as Ghana, have not been concluded yet.