GUTA urges ECOWAS members to fully comply with trade laws


In order to resolve trade impasses between countries in the West African sub-region, President of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), Dr. Joseph Obeng, has asked all stakeholders to follow the appropriate laws governing trade among the states.

Citing the example of the recent impasse between Ghanaian and Nigerian traders, Dr. Obeng believes obeying all rules governing trade among ECOWAS members will reduce such disagreements.

In a virtual seminar organized by IMANI Africa on the theme, ‘Ghana’s trade in ECOWAS: Aligning a history of incoherent trade policies to post-COVID scenarios’, the President of GUTA, Dr. Joseph Obeng stressed that these trade impasses between members of the ECOWAS often begin due to the non-compliance to laws governing trade among the countries.

“It’s not that we are giving anybody unhindered access to Ghana. Now AfCFTA is open. Let all Ghanaian youth who want to trade go to South Africa, if they are 1 million [in number], let them all go. Are they going to be allowed to trade? No!” he exclaimed.

He continued, “They have controls, and so these controls, rules and engagements in these protocols is what we have to follow and that is all that we are demanding as citizens.”

Meanwhile, the President of the Nigerian Union of Traders in Ghana, Chukwuemeka Nnaji believes the governments of the various ECOWAS states need to come together to harmonise the laws that govern trade among the countries to help resolve issues like that of Ghana and Nigeria.

“If a Nigerian living in Ghana should not have access to trade, what is the essence of the ECOWAS treaty? Why are we having protocols? Every country to country has bilateral relationships. But it looks like Nigeria and Ghana do not have any bilateral relationship. I think we should move forward to have one strong West African community than all this divide and rule that we are doing,” he noted.

Earlier calls

This is not the first time GUTA has demanded for the ECOWAS trade rules to be obeyed.

Over the years, there have been trade disagreements between Ghanaian traders and their foreign counterparts, especially Nigerian traders due to the involvement of the latter in retail business in Ghanaian markets.

This has led to the closure of some Nigerian shops in Accra and Kumasi on different occasions.

Although the Speakers of the Parliament of Ghana and the House of Representatives of Nigeria have resolved to work towards regularizing trading activities in both countries, GUTA is hopeful that the President, Nana Akufo-Addo’s appointment as the ECOWAS Chair will help fast track processes in solving trade-related issues among members of the Community.

“We are confident that as a leader of ECOWAS and also the host of the secretariat of the AfCFTA, he would use his good offices to ensure that the rules of engagements in these protocols are strictly applied in solving all trade-related matters,” the Association said in a congratulatory message to the President on his appointment as the ECOWAS Chairman.