Ghana’s foreign affairs minister slams Nigeria for shutting borders without notice

Ghana’s foreign affairs minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, has retaliated comments made by her Nigerian counterpart, Geoffery Onyeama, about trade restrictions.

Onyeama had made this comment in reaction to the decision of Ghanaian authorities locking up the shops of Nigerian traders.

The Ghanaian authorities had demanded that the Nigerian traders should present evidence of their Ghana Investment Promotion Council (GIPC) registration which mandates foreign businesses to register with 31,500 cedis and have a minimum of $1 million foreign equity.

“What is the point of having an economic community if at the end of the day, each country will make laws and regulations that are in contradiction with the protocol? That is an issue that needs to be addressed,” Onyeama had said.

“We have the intention of calling our Charge D’Affaires in Ghana for consultation and again to get to the fact. We don’t want to anticipate what our actions would be, but we will consider all the options depending on the facts.

“Clearly, if it is contravening ECOWAS protocol, then we would have to look at solution, including the ECOWAS court as the final arbiter.

“We will also consider the issue of reciprocity in terms of the concrete measures that will be applied. We are following the matter very closely and we want the matter to be addressed within the shortest possible time.”

In a series of tweets, Botchwey said what is the use of having an economic community if member countries cannot trade with each other.

“Comments against Ghana attributed to Geoffrey Onyeama, Nigerian foreign minister, that Ghanaian government is harassing Nigerian retailers for 2020 electoral gains, if indeed true will be most unfortunate as relations between our two countries has always been strong,” Botchwey tweeted.

“I believe that countries from time to time must take hard decisions to make policy or enforce laws.

“August 2019 saw Nigeria close its land borders without notice to community trade. Explanation- ‘To stop smuggling and to protect local industries from imported/smuggled rice, etc.’

“Of course, this decision ended up hurting Ghanaian exporters and brought many of them to their knees financially as trucks were stuck at the Seme-Krake border for months.

“Alan Kyerematen, Ghana’s trade minister, and I took a trip to Abuja to try to resolve the issue asking for a safe corridor for our goods since the policy we were told wasn’t meant to hurt Ghana.

“Unfortunately, nothing came out of these meetings so, in the end, Ghana government had no choice but to help rescue our exporters.

“On August 10, 2020, a six-week nationwide exercise including market visits to assess business operating documents of traders in Ghana took off.

“The exercise which will be completed in September has not targeted traders from any country.”

Botchwey said Esther Adebola Arewa, Chargé d’Affaires of Nigeria to Ghana, has also been summoned to protest Onyeama’s comments.

In Nigeria, Onyeama also met with Iva Denoo, the Chargé d’Affaires of Ghana to Nigeria, to protest the forceful closure of the shops of Nigerian traders in Ghana, and to demand an urgent resolution.

The tension between both countries comes at a time when the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is working on a common currency and the African Union is also working on kickstarting the African Continental Free Trade Area to improve trade relations on the continent.

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