The Ghana Union of Traders’ Association, GUTA, says it is looking forward to the reopening of the Nigerian border for trade activities to return to normalcy.
According to them, this is critical to the success of the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The Nigerian government in August last year closed its frontiers to stop the smuggling of products from neighbouring West African states into the country. But at an All Progressives Congress meeting in Abuja earlier this month, President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari announced that Nigeria is looking to reopen its borders as soon as possible.
Speaking to Citi Business News, President of GUTA, Dr. Joseph Obeng, explained that Nigeria’s intent is firmly based on the economic recession they faced in the wake of the border closure.
“It is welcome news, as you know the fundamental issue of the ECOWAS protocol is free movement of goods and services. For some reasons best known to Nigeria they have started to lock down their borders citing the abuse of the rules of origin. And it is their right to do that especially when there is an abuse because the ECOWAS protocol is not sacrosanct. So, any country can choose to protect their citizens but then also Nigeria have come into realization that they cannot live in isolation especially when their citizens are suffering under the policy of closure.
So, it is welcoming news for now but then if you look at the fact that the inflation of Nigeria has hit all time high to 30% or over and the fact that they have to also prepare for the Africa Continental Free Trade Area then you will know clearly that it is in the interest of their people that the border is being opened and not in the interest of the other West African Countries,” 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.