A CONSULTANT to Nigerian business organisations in Ghana, Mr. Emmanuel Chibuzor, is advocating amendments to the ECOWAS agreement by member states, lamenting serious challenges with implementation of the agreement.
The selective implementation of the ECOWAS protocols by member state was inhibiting regional economic development.
Since August 2, three months after finally signing up for Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), Nigeria banned the movement of goods through its land borders, ostensibly to prevent the smuggling of commodities such as rice, tomatoes, and poultry.
The closure is set to last at least until the end of January.
While refuting claims by some Ghanaian business concerns that the borders had been closed in retaliation for what had been happening in Ghana where some members of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) had repeatedly forcibly closed down shops that belonged to Nigerians, Mr. Chibuzor questioned the wisdom behind the closures.
GUTA had according to him indicated that the municipal laws had reserved come retail businesses for the local people
Mr Chibuzor who was unhappy about excuses given by GUTA for their actions said, “you cannot commit yourself to a regional multilateral agreement and then come back and enact your own law which is inimical to the treaty you have signed.”
“If the ECOWAS agreement is no longer convenient or conducive for Ghanaians, and since Ghana has a loud voice within ECOWAS, its leadership should call for amendments so that Ghana can amend the ECOWAS protocols and laws to protect itself,”
The implication, he noted was that “every country in the region will play in isolation,”
Africa is currently made up of “fragmented markets, and can’t negotiate with the bigger economies unless it comes together. Unless we have an integrated continent, Africa will continue to be underdeveloped. We will remain on the periphery,” he stated.
Ghana’s imports from Nigeria stood at US$159.38million during 2018, according to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade.
The Nigerian market was the largest consumer of Ghana’s chocolate and its related products, including sweetened cocoa powder.
In 2018 Nigeria spent over $29.8million in importing salt from Brazil, China, and India when we can patronize Ghana for the stated item.
Ghana has the production potential of 2.2 million tonnes of salt annually. Nigeria Imports from Brazil of Salt, Pure Sodium Chloride, and Sea Water was US$29.09 Million during 2018, according to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade.
Closure of border regrettable
If we have to resort to closure of borders while we have customs then we should stop paying the customs officers.
He however admitted that the customs officers may have been overwhelmed by smuggling activities across the border
“If they have been overwhelmed then government must intervene; for instance all $1.1billion or rice imported by Benin finds its way into Nigeria.