Mr. Carlos Ahenkora the Deputy Minister for Trade has called on members of the Ghana Union Traders Association (GUTA) and Ghana Electrical Dealers Association to allow the sector ministry in Ghana to deal their grievances. GUTA and the Electrical dealers are calling for shops of all foreigners closed by Monday, 4 November 2019.
This agitation has been registered for over two years. However, the calls intensified with some pockets of violence in June this year when GUTA forcibly locked some shops owned by foreigners.
The Call to Close Shops of Foreigners
GUTA and the Electrical dealers are calling for shops of all foreigners closed by Monday, 4 November 2019. This agitation has been registered for over three years. However, the calls intensified with some pockets of violence in June this year when GUTA forcibly locked some shops owned by foreigners.
GUTA and its ally purport that foreigners, especially Nigerians and Chinese, have highjacked the local Ghana retail market. Accordiing to them, these foreigners trade in the electrical, spare parts, hardware, fish trading and other items. This, according to them. is in contravention to the GIPC Act 865 which stipulates the trade activities foreigners are forbidden to participate in. This they say is leading to the collapse of the local retail businesses. These foreigners are able to sell at cheaper prices due to their volume trading. They offer wholesale prices to end users and making their retail prices noncompetitive.
The Nigerian-Benin Border
What has exacerbated the GUTA protest is the recent Nigerian government’s closure of the Nigerian-Benin border. This remotely but directly affects the entire West African Region. The Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) have already lamented the stockpile of manufacturers’ goods behind the Benin border. The Head of International Business Development of Ghana’s largest local beverage manufacturer, Kasapreko, reported that company has so far lost about US$2 million in revenue due to the Nigerian-Benin Border Closure.
The associations claim the government has not fulfilled its promise of ridding the market of foreign traders in the retail market despite several appeals.
The group has been complaining about what they say is the collapse of their businesses due to the invasion of foreigners in the retail business.
Government Must Act – Earlier Calls
This is not the first time such calls have been made. Ghanaian retailers have long called for government to take this action. In 2016, some fishing gear retailers threatened to close down shops operated by Chinese nationals if the government failed to stop them from establishing retail businesses.
The Ashanti Regional branch of the GUTA in 2017 also gave the government a 72-hour ultimatum to address issues concerning the large number of foreigners engaging in retail businesses.
However, it does not seem that the sector ministry or government has done much. Hence the resurgence and the heightening threat and urgency of the situation. As the Nigerian government has protected its market by all means, so should the government of Ghana protect its market and businesses. The Nigerian government’s action comes after signing the Africa trade agreements. They are however driven by the urge to curb smuggling and also to protect their market. Ghana government’s actions should go beyond receiving petitions and giving assurances. The government is expected to act more pragmatically to put this matter to rest to forestall any future exigencies.