In an escalating tit-for-tat trade war, the Ghana Union of Traders Association shut down almost 70 Nigerian-owned businesses because of Nigeria’s closure of its border to imports and exports.
The Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) has been shutting down Nigerian-owned businesses and Ghanaian officials went as far as closing almost 70 businesses belonging to Nigerians on November 11, 2019.
Most of the businesses were based in the capital, Accra. The national President of the Nigerian Union of Traders Association in Ghana (NUTAG), Chukwuemeka Nnaji, recommended members of the association close their shops to avoid the potential destruction of their businesses and goods.
Police officers and the Nigerian Mission in Ghana prevented a clash between GUTA and NUTAG members.
What is behind the tit-for-tat?
Ghanaians claim that foreign retailers 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 GUTA was a response to the decision of the Nigerian government to close its borders.
On the one hand, GUTA stated that the closure of Nigeria’s trade borders with its neighbours is against the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) treaties, and on the other hand the president of the association, Dr Joseph Obeng, argues that the Foreign Affairs Ministry and ECOWAS have failed to keep Nigeria in check.
Obeng believes that all treaties and protocols under ECOWAS are ineffective, pointing to Nigeria’s actions as evidence.
“Nigeria has blatantly flouted ECOWAS protocol if there is even something like that. Surprisingly, the foreign affairs ministry has failed to deal with this issue, nobody is talking to this issue and for two months Ghanaian goods have been locked up in Nigeria. This act by the Nigerian government nullifies the entire ECOWAS Treaty on the free movement of people and goods,” he said.
Those on the other side of Nigerian borders say they have suffered massive economic losses since the Nigerian government moved to completely close its land borders to imports and exports until “certain conditions are met by those countries with respect to the movement of goods”.
And now it looks like the train is about to derail as there are those who are now taking matters into their own hands.
GUTA claims that the closure of Nigeria’s land borders affected Ghanaian traders massively as 100 trucks of goods belonging to Ghanaians are locked up in Nigeria. In addition, many Ghanaian traders were stuck inside the country with tons of goods which they intended to transport through Benin by road.
Apparently, it seems the demonstrations and actions against Nigerian stores are completely linked with the closure of the Nigerian border to West African countries including Ghana. GUTA stresses that the closure of Nigeria’s trade borders to Benin and other neighbouring countries is an outright breach of ECOWAS treaties.
According to local reports, GUTA members cite Ghanaian laws, stating that they have been left with no choice than to move into the markets and lock the shops up themselves because the law enforcement agencies fail to do their work.