The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Nigeria has positioned itself to advance trade ties with its neighbour, Ghana, to enhance cross-border relations and tap into the potential market of 350 million people in the West African region.
‘’Integration is in fact the main vehicle for boosting trade,’’ said Remi Bello, president, LCCI, during a sensitisation forum on doing business in Ghana, held last Thursday in Lagos.
‘’As private sector players, we have a critical role to play to increase the level of trade and investment between the two countries and generally within the sub-region,’’ he said.
Bello further added that specific activities should be undertaken in the areas development and promotion of sub-regional financial institutions and capital markets as well as creation of investments across border.
There should also strengthening of regional business associations like the Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce as well as creation of Ghana-Nigeria Business Council while also developing closer collaborations among chambers of commerce, business associations and professional bodies, he added.
But one key problem hampering smooth trade relations between the two countries is poor reciprocity. For instance, Ghanaian textiles and pharmaceuticals are not allowed into the Nigerian market even when Ghana has opened its doors for Nigerian products, according to Haruna Iddrisu, Ghana’s buy accutane cream minister for trade.
‘’Nigerian must provide the right leadership. There is a common bilateral investment treaty between Nigeria and Ghana. We have signed ours but Nigeria is yet to sign it,’’ he said, adding that Nigerian exporters would have good top-line and bottom-line returns if they could exploit the horticultural and agricultural goods sectors in the country.
But Ademola Oluwaseyi Onafowokan, Nigeria’s ambassador to Ghana, was quick to point out that Nigeria does not close its doors to Ghanaian products, citing perceived malpractices from businessmen outside the West African region as one key factor that has hampered trade relations of both countries.
‘’What happens is that some companies outside Ghana will send their products to Ghana, register them there and export them into Nigeria as Ghanaian products,’’ he said.
‘’When we find out, of course we will not just keep quiet. We will talk with relevant agencies to find a way out,’’ he said.
Nike Akande, former industry minister and deputy president, LCCI, who also served as chairperson of the event, said Ghana-Nigeria Business Council is a laudable initiative and promises to be beneficial to both countries, stressing that Nigeria has the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC), which is a one-stop shop for Ghanaian investors, always ready to assist whenever the need arises.