Six months after ICIR’s report, Nigeria and Ghana set to create special law to end trade dispute

THE Ghanaian and Nigerian governments, on Wednesday, agreed to make a special law that would facilitate  trade and address the crisis that has lingered between both countries.

Speakers of the Parliament from the two nations Femi Gbajabiamila (Nigeria) and Alban Sumana Bagbin (Ghana) disclosed this during a press conference after a closed-door meeting held in Abuja.

Head of the Ghanaian delegate Bagbin said a consensus had already been reached through a special mechanism that would prevent a recurrence of the conflicts usually between traders from both nations.

A special committee comprising selected lawmakers from Ghana and Nigerian is to work in alliance to enact the Ghana-Nigeria Friendship Act.

Through the Act, the joint committee would eventually establish the Ghana-Nigeria Business Council, in a deliberate move to foster good business interaction and friendship between the two countries.

“Rt. Hon. Speaker, I am here just to help bring finality to the impasse. I pledge my commitment and that of the Parliament of Ghana, to contribute in every way possible to end the impasse between traders of our two sister countries.

“In furtherance of that, under my leadership, the Parliament of Ghana has appointed a seven-member committee as Ghana’s delegation to the Joint Committee of Eminent Persons of our Legislatures. They will interact with their Nigerian counterparts towards passing the ‘Ghana-Nigeria Friendship Act.’

“The Act will set up the proposed ‘Ghana-Nigeria Business Council,’ which is intended to provide the legal and institutional framework to sustain the continued friendship and business interests of our people,” Bagbin said.

According to him, Ghana “got assurance from both sides that the issue of trade dispute will be a thing of the past. We’re now putting up a mechanism to make sure that these issues don’t come up again in the future.”

For years, both nations have been at loggerheads over a controversial Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), an Act which mandates foreigners, including the Nigerian traders, to make a $1 million commitment or a similar value worth of raw materials before being allowed to do business in the old Gold Coast country.

The ICIR had earlier investigated, in a trip to Ghana, the root cause of the controversy between traders from both nations.

The report also examined the trade volume between both nations and the possible implications of the trade crisis if it lingered beyond control.

While the Nigerian traders described the $1 million levy as outrageous, the Ghanaian authorities insisted that as a sovereign nation, it had the liberty to create laws that must be obeyed by all foreigners.

Moreover, the Ghanaian law also forbids foreigners from embarking on trading business which their citizens are capable of floating.

But, Gbajabiamila, in his earlier reaction to Bagbin, had described the closed-door meeting as successful, saying issues of interest to both nations were discussed.

He said a technical committee was already set up by the lawmakers to perfect the deliberations, and the committee members would be visiting Ghana next week.

“We’ve more or less concluded the roadmap to achieve lasting solutions to the diplomatic issues with our traders.

“The issue with our traders and the Ghanaian authorities has been addressed today. The Minister of Trade and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs were at the meeting.

“There is a technical committee set up. They will be going to Ghana next week to dot the ‘Is’ and cross the ‘Ts,'” he stated.

    Gbajabiamila applauded his Ghanaian counterpart for his resolve to ensure the trading crisis was addressed.

    “The issue of the Nigerian embassy in Ghana, the Ghanaian authorities have accepted to take responsibility, though it has nothing to do with them, they said they will put it back.”

    “We went beyond Nigeria-Ghana relationship. We also talked about CoSAP. Other issues will be addressed by the two friendship groups,” he added.

    Bagbin concluded by asking for the review of the prohibition list banning the importation of specific goods and commodities into the Nigerian market from other countries, including Ghana.

    Olugbenga heads the Investigations Desk at The ICIR. Do you have a scoop? Shoot him an email at [email protected]. Twitter Handle: @OluAdanikin

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