The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has started declining Nigerian products possibly in retaliation to the country’s border closure, DailymailGh.com can report.
Nigeria is the latest African nation to close its borders, following similar actions by Kenya, Rwanda and Sudan in recent months.
For some experts, the border closures of Nigeria are a slap in the face for the continent’s integration efforts.
Experts have warned the situation is likely to damage the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), which has the potential to be the world’s largest free trade zone, even surpassing the World Trade Organization, established in 1995.
Foreign exporters in the region are counting their losses as countries within the ECOWAS sub-region have started rejecting Nigerian goods.
According to the exporters, the move is gradually crippling their businesses.
During an interview with Vanguard Maritime Report, Chief Executive Officer of Multi-mix Academy, an export-orientated institution, Dr Obiora Madu, disclosed that Nigerian exports within the ECOWAS region are decreasing due to the border closure.
He said: “It is definitely impacting negatively on the economy as the exports done within the ECOWAS region and our neighboring countries are now in decrease. These countries that benefit from the open border, since we have closed it, even though we used to export to them before, you don’t expect to get the level of cooperation that we are getting before because they are hit hard by these closed borders.”
Closure of border worrying, open it – John Mahama
Ghanaian former leader John Mahama also added his voice on the situation, describing Nigeria’s decision as a “worrying development”.
“The unilateral closure of the Nigeria border since August is a very worrying development for the growth of free trade in the ECOWAS sub-region. One can understand the harmful effects of the unbridled smuggling of goods on the growth of local production. But it is problematic that sub-regional economic activity and trade should suffer because of domestic institutional weaknesses.”
“Nigeria must invest in strengthening its institutions and systems that are responsible for the importation of illegal or prohibited goods. The total closure especially the Benin border is having a toll on many SMEs especially in Togo, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire that rely on inter-country trade for survival… I want to appeal to Nigeria to open up its borders so that economic activities can resume”, Mahama said while delivering the 7th Real News Magazine Anniversary Lecture in Lagos Nigeria.
GUTA locks up foreign retail shops
In Ghana local traders shut down foreign-owned businesses and Ghanaian officials went as far as closing almost 70 businesses belonging to Nigerians.
Ghanaians claim that foreign retailers (referring to Nigerians) violated section 27 of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) Act 865, which stipulates that “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”, must be reserved only for Ghanaian citizens.
However, many believe that the action by the Ghana Union of Traders’ Associations (GUTA) was a response to the decision by the Nigerian government to close its borders.
GUTA stated that the closure of Nigeria’s trade borders with its neighbours is against the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) treaties.
One week ultimatum
At a press conference held in Accra on November 18, 2019, The Ghana Union Traders Association (GUTA) gave government one week to enforce laws barring foreigners from engaging in retail trade in the country
Though the date has ended, the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) says it is not too late for the government to do the right thing.
Speaking to Accra-based Citi FM, the National Welfare Officer of GUTA, Benjamin Yeboah, said the association is currently assessing the situation after the apparent non-action from the government.
“We never said in our deadline that we will act immediately…we will assess the situation and decide on the line of action.”
Mr. Yeboah however assured that its response to the lack of action will be felt nationwide though he remained tight-lipped on the details.
Source: DailymailGh.com with additional files from trtworld.com