Ghana – Nigeria trade impasse close to ending
Adnan Adams Mohammed
The over a decade trade impasse between the two economic giants in the ECOWAS zone (Ghana and Nigeria) is gradually coming to an end as government officials of the two countries met to proffer pragmatic solutions.
Among the solutions is a proposal by President of Ghana, H.E Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for the establishment of a Ghana-Nigeria Business Council to superintend over trade and investment relations. Addressing Nigeria’s Speaker House of Representatives in Accra, last week, the Ghanaian president indicated that the timing was right for such a council to be established.
The delegations from both countries were led by the Speaker of Parliament of Ghana, Prof Aaron Mike Oquaye and his Nigerian counterpart, Olufemi Gbajabiamila deliberated to find solutions to the challenges brought about as a result of Ghana’s implementation of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) Act 2013, Act 865. Discussions so far have been on how the implementation of Act 865 can be implemented in a manner that will not render Nigerian traders in Ghana jobless since most of them have had their shops closed and some fines levied at them, in accordance with the provisions of Act 865. Ghana’s sovereignty and national interest in the matter has been at the front burner in all the discussions held so far.
“The idea of legislation to promote a Ghana-Nigeria Business Council, that will have superintendence over trade and investment matters between our two countries, is well overdue. It is events that produce institutions, and the time has come for it to be done,” President Akufo-Addo said, adding that, “It will be a good idea to also set up a Joint Ministerial Committee for Ministers on both sides, who would be responsible for shepherding Ghana-Nigerian issues, and reporting to both Presidents at any time when matters occur, and how they should be resolved.”
Participants in the discussions have included the 12-member delegation from Nigeria, sector ministers for Trade, and National Security, a Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Chief Executive Officer of the GIPC, the Chairman and Deputy Ranking Member of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Clerk to Parliament, and some key Parliamentary staff.
Speaker of Nigerian House of Representatives, Olufemi Gbajabiamila, in his reactions described the economic, social and political ties that bind Ghana and Nigeria together and urged that the two countries to use legislative diplomacy to resolve the issues confronting them.
This, he said, is most appropriate, since he and Speaker Oquaye had, on previous occasions, worked together, using the same tools to resolve economic issues not only between the two countries but in the sub-region.
Minister of Trade and Industry, Alan Kyerematen explained the context of the GIPC Act and its implementation and said that it was not targeted at any particular nationals and definitely not Nigerians.
He outlined ways by which the two countries can have mutual trade relations with the requisite benefits.
Assuring Nigeria of Ghana’s good intentions, Speaker Oquaye pointed out that reports on the matter may have escalated tensions and cautioned that private or commercial arrangements between individuals and organizations of the two countries should not be confused with governments’ engagements.
He also encouraged the use of diplomacy in the resolutions.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Union of Traders Association Ghana (NUTAG) has finally agreed its members are prepared to leave the Ghanaian local market if the government has asked them to do so.
“The truth of the matter is, to the best of my knowledge, even the Ghanaian authority, our authority and ECOWAS Parliament and ECOWAS Commission and on most occasions, the GIPC is not meant for ECOWAS. It is for other nationals. And me personally I stand on that, either Ghana government or ECOWAS make it clear to us that yes if you are a Nigerian you must abide by the GIPC law or else leave the country, then I will be the first person to leave because I don’t have 1 million dollars”. Chief Chukwuemeka Nanji President of NUTAG has said.
The Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) law says; ‘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’.
However, enforcing this law, members of GUTA recently embarked on an exercise of closing stores and shops owned by their counterparts from Nigeria who were engaging in retail activities in Ghana. The closure of shops owned by Nigerians prompted its government to issue warning to Ghana over the decision by GUTA.