THE Ghana Union of Traders (GUTA) has said it would employ every means at its disposal, including the use of protests, to resist any attempt to review or change the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) Act that ensures foreign retailers, including Nigerians, pay a minimum capital of $1 million.
A joint communique between Ghana and Nigeria after an Extraordinary ECOWAS Summit held earlier this month had exempted Nigerians from the $1 million minimum capital requirement under the GIPC Act 2013, Act 865 which hitherto prevented them from trading in Ghana’s retail market.
Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament Alban Bagbin assured that a consensus had been reached and that selected lawmakers from Ghana and Nigeria would constitute a special committee that would work together to enact a Ghana-Nigeria Friendship Act that would end a 25-year retail impasse between both countries.
“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.
However, addressing the media this week, President of GUTA Joseph Obeng described the review as retrogressive and spiteful of Ghana’s trading community.
“We will resist any attempt to take away the only retail market the 1992 Constitution grants us. We will never sit back and watch this happen. GUTA is prepared for a nationwide protest should this happen,” Obeng told journalists.
For 25 years, Nigeria and Ghana traders have been at loggerheads over the controversial GIPC Act, prompting The ICIR in December 2020 to launch an investigation into the crisis that was impacting trade activities in the region.
Nigeria accounts for 76 per cent of total trade in the region, followed by Ghana with 9.2 per cent and Cote d’Ivoire with 8.2 per cent, according to data obtained from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission.
The ICIR findings published in January revealed that most business owners, including the Ghanaians, only occupied small stalls at the markets.
As a result, paying the $1 million levy was a challenge to most foreign traders, particularly those who were in the business of mobile phones and automobile spare parts.
Nigerian stalls took the largest percentage of locked-up shops in the markets across Ghana, especially in Accra, resulting in heavy revenue loss for both the Nigerian businessmen and the Ghanaian authorities.
Dozens of shops belonging to Nigerians which were shut since November last year by Ghana’s Trade Ministry, with support from GUTA, have remained closed, while their owners are left stranded.