The Ghana Union of Traders’ Association, GUTA, says the ongoing deliberations seeking to improve trade relations between Ghana and Nigeria would fail if such discussions are not spearheaded by the leading trade organizations in the two countries.
The comments follow ongoing discussions between a Nigerian delegation led by the Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives, Olufemi Gbajabiamila, and a Ghanaian delegation led by Ghana’s Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Aaron Michael Oquaye, on ways to improve trade relations between the two countries.
Speaking to Citi Business News, President of GUTA, Joseph Obeng, said the final recommendations should not leave Ghanaian traders worse off.
“It should include the business community. Laws are made for the well-being of the citizenry. So, if even you are going to engage in a friendly act, the citizens should agree with that act. They must also understand the act too. Whatever it is, if you engage the citizens of the country, they will appreciate it as it inures to their benefit,” he said.
Mr. Obeng also called on the relevant stakeholders to call to order members of the Nigerian Union of Traders Association in Ghana.
“What the Nigerians did was very serious. It nearly brought a huge misunderstanding between the two nations. They have to be cautioned lest they cause mayhem in the country. They don’t have good intentions for the country,” he said.
Earlier last year, after Nigeria closed its frontiers to stop the smuggling of products from neighbouring West African states into the country, the Ghana Union of Traders, GUTA, also asked authorities to strictly enforce Ghana’s laws banning foreigners from engaging in retail trade.
They attributed the collapse of the businesses of some of their members to the invasion of foreigners especially Nigerians, in the retail sub-sector.
According to them, the activities of the foreigners breach the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre’s Act (Act 865).
Per Section 27 of the GIPC Act 865, “A person who is not a citizen or an enterprise which is not wholly owned by a citizen, shall not invest or participate in the sale of goods or provision of services in a market, petty trading or hawking or selling of goods in a stall at any place,”
Members of the union say government has not fulfilled its promise of ridding the market of such traders despite several appeals.
GUTA consequently locked up over 600 foreign-owned shops in Accra and Kumasi belonging to the foreigners.
President Akufo-Addo in a meeting with the leadership of GUTA on Tuesday, 3rd December 2019, stated that “undoubtedly, the law favours GUTA’s position” but, urged the leadership and membership of GUTA not to take the law into their own hands in dealing with the foreign traders.
This led to the formation of a task force by the Presidency to address the issues, but there have renewed tensions over the disagreement.