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Trade war : Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey summons Nigeria’s Chargé d’Affaires to Ghana

By Justice Kofi Bimpeh
Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey
Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey
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Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey has summoned Nigeria’s Chargé d’Affaires to Ghana, Esther Adebola Arewa in protest of comments attributed to Nigeria’s Foreign Minister, criticising Ghana’s handling of foreign retailers.

Per a series of tweets from the Minister, Nigeria’s Foreign Minister said the government’s crackdown on foreigners in retail trade, some of whom are Nigerian, was to garner votes.

She said such comments were “most unfortunate” for relations between Ghana and Nigeria.

Relations between Ghana and Nigeria have been strained because disputes over the status of foreign traders, which led to the temporary closure of some Nigerian-owned shops in the enforcement of Section 27 (1) of the GIPC Act.

Nigeria has threatened retaliation of closure of shops of its citizens in Ghana.

Nigeria Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama said action by Ghanaian authorities to close shops of Nigerians in Ghana did not speak well for free trade in the sub-region

According to him, he has been briefed by their Commission here in Ghana and they are considering dragging Ghana to the Community Court of Justice, ECOWAS for breach of protocols.

He said this at a meeting with the delegation of League of Progressive Ambassadors of Nigeria.

"We summoned the Ghanaian... foreign affairs to discuss this matter and he assured us that the process has been suspended and put on hold pending discussions with all the parties involved including the Nigerians so that everybody can be on the same page.

"It is in conflict with the ECOWAS protocol provisions as you mentioned so this is a something that we are going to want looked into at this non-respect of the ECOWAS protocol."

Some foreigner retailers resisted shop closure at Kwame Nkrumah Circle in Accra.

The exercise according to the taskforce is from the Presidential Committee on Retail Trade under the Ministry of Trade and Industry probing the impasse between Ghanaian traders and their foreign counterparts.

This some Ghanaian traders said is due to the foreigners failing to regularise their operations.

The traders resisting the closure said they have complied all they were ask to do and they have bank receipts to show for it.

The taskforce despite the resistance was able to close down a number of the shops.

Public Relations Officer for the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Prince Boakye-Boateng yesterday said the shops will be closed due to the failure of some foreigners to adhere to the directives on retail trade-in Ghana.

“For Circle, we will be locking of shops because they have been given enough notice already. The shops were initially locked, we asked that they open for a proper assessment by the Ministry and for that matter, the Committee. So enough notice has been given already so as we get to Circle, it is about the locking up of shops and not about assessment as done at Abossey Okai.”

He also appealed to foreigners without business operating documents at other markets to comply with the directives on retail trade.

“I am appealing to other people who are in other areas we will be going to; I am referring to those at Opera Square, Zongo lane, Kantamanto, UTC and Kumasi that they should start preparing and get their things in place.”

There has been a trade war between Ghanaian traders and their foreign counterparts, especially Nigerian traders over 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.

Clashes between Ghanaian and Nigerian traders have led to the destruction of some properties of Nigerian traders.