*Decries Low Trade Volume Among African Countries
Speaker of the Ghanaian Parliament, Rt. Hon. Alban Suman Bagbin has asked Nigeria to consider review of the prohibition list banning the importation of specific goods and commodities into the Nigerian market from countries, including Ghana.
The Ghanaian Speaker also decried the low level of trade among African countries, saying out of about $460 billion trade volume, only $69 billion was transacted among African nations.
Addressing members of the House of Representatives during yesterday’s plenary, the Ghanaian Speaker said the Ghanaian parliament was making efforts to resolve the trade impasse between Nigerian traders in Ghana and their Ghanaian counterparts.
“We are making progress in resolving the concerns of the Nigerian traders in Ghana. It has been a joint effort between our two countries. That is always the way to go if we are interested in the peace and development of our countries. I am confident that the intervention of our two legislatures in this effort will yield results.
“While at it, it is said it must be peace without victory. Only peace between equals can last. To this end, it will be highly appreciated if the Government of Nigeria will review the prohibition list banning the importation of specific goods and commodities into the Nigerian market, from countries including Ghana.
“This request is underscored by the resolution as captured in the communique of 31st May 2021 referred to supra. I have no doubt, Rt. Hon. Speaker, under your sterling leadership of the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, an institution of measureless might and majesty, Nigeria can fine tune the prohibition list to align with contemporary international trade practices,” Bagbin said.
He said the coming into being of the African Continental Free Trade Area signalled the opening for business and mutually beneficial investments, pointing out that Africa’s prosperity depends largely on intra African trade.
According to him, increase in trade volumes is the surest way to deepen regional integration in Africa. The low levels of trade among African countries as compared to trade with other parts of the world constitute one of the defining characteristics of continuing poverty.
“Data available from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) indicates that in 2019 Africa’s total volume of trade was about US$460billion, however only US$69billion of this huge volume of trade was transacted among African nations.
“What is even more worrying is that most of these imports traded can be produced and procured in Africa. This unfortunate trend hinders prospects of bringing the needed prosperity to our people.
“It results in the frailty of our security situation given that the rising youth unemployment on our continent which is the world’s youngest continent, occasioned by this unpleasant development, provides handy tools to those so minded to perpetrate all acts of vandalism, hooliganism and violent extremism,” Bagbin said.
He applauded the efforts of former President Goodluck Jonathan in leading the ECOWAS Mediation team to find a solution to the political instability in Mali as well as efforts of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, for his parliamentary diplomacy and visionary initiative of cementing the already great and cordial historic diplomatic relations between Ghana and Nigeria.
He recalled the events of 1969, when through the Aliens Compliance Order, Ghana expelled a large number of Nigerians and the 1983 Ghana must go, which saw Nigeria deporting about one million Ghanaians, describing it as dark days in the history of the two countries.
He said: “These actions were destructive to the socio-economic and fraternal relations between Ghana and Nigeria and stretched the fabric and strands of bonds beyond measure. It is no wonder that successive leaders of our two countries have, since then, vowed never to allow those incidents to ever recur.”
The Ghanaian Speaker commended the Nigerian Speaker for his Parliamentary Diplomacy towards finding a lasting solution to the trade impasse between some Ghanaian and Nigerian traders in Ghana following the full implementation of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre Act, 2013 (Act 865), which occasioned the closure of shops belonging to some foreigners, including Nigerians.
He said: “Your visit to Ghana in September 2020 demonstrated a significant commitment on your part and the leadership of our two legislatures to strengthen the bonds that exist between us, as one people and with it the development of our two countries.
“For that reason, you and your counterpart defied the threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic to reach out to one another, at a time when the global community was living in fear of such physical contacts.
“The conclusions you arrived at, which were encapsulated in the joint communique issued after the visit, provided the basis for redefining our relations, in terms of our history of cooperation, to forge a better future for the citizenry of our two nations.
“These conclusions were reinforced by the communique issued after the recent meeting between our ministers responsible for Trade on the sides of the Extraordinary ECOWAS Summit on the Political Situation in Mali held on 31st May 2021 in Accra.
“As I have repeatedly stated on various platforms, if COVID-19 has taught us any lesson, it is that no country, no individual and no group of persons can succeed on its own efforts. Given the nature of global emerging challenges which tend to be trans-territorial and trans-generational, we need, as people and nations to forge and bond together.
“If we want to survive in peace and prosperity, we have no alternatives than to work together to find common solutions in this global village. Ghana and Nigeria are forerunners in this respect. Our history of oneness, kith and kin, and good relations makes it imperative for us to make all necessary efforts at forging together in peace and harmony on all fronts of our socio-economic life.
“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.”
He disclosed that the Parliament of Ghana has appointed a seven-member committee to interact with their Nigerian counterparts towards passing the “Ghana-Nigeria Friendship Act” which 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.
He said further: “The communique of 31st May 2021 meeting, suggested in part a ring-fencing of some of the thorny requirements of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre Act, 2013(Act 865). This was a laudable suggestion.
“Of particular mention, in this regard, is the reconsideration of the one million United States-Dollar minimum capital requirement for trading enterprises under section 28 (2) of the Act. This is to facilitate regularization of the businesses of the affected Nigerian retail traders in the trade impasse.
“Equally commendable is the special concession to be applied to the requirement for the payment of 0.5 per cent Stamp Duty on the capital investment required by both the GIPC and the Registrar-General’s Department in respect of investment by foreign nationals.
“It is understandable that the meeting resolved to apply all other aspects of the legal requirements in respect of foreigners’ participation in retail trade in Ghana and Nigeria. Recent and emerging security imperatives necessitate that while we seek to deepen cooperation among citizens of our two countries, we must not fail to prevent opportunists from taking undue advantage of loopholes in our systems that might tend to jeopardize the economic fortunes of our respective countries”.
Speaker of the House of Representatives however told newsmen that the “we have concluded on the road map to achieving lasting and sustainable peace between the two countries. As we have both reiterated that Nigeria and Ghana are brothers, even though as brothers you will always have issues here and there.
“It is your ability and capacity to resolve those issues that determines how well or sustainable the relationship is. You are aware that for some time there has been agreements between the two countries and our traders that today. It has been an ongoing discussion.
“As you are aware the two parliaments embarked on our parliamentary diplomacy sometime last year, and achieved a few good results and this is a continuation of same. The Minister of Trade and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs were there besides the executive.
“They will be going to Ghana next with their technical team to put finishing touches to the agreements that have been reached over a couple of months in terms of the trade agreements and the issues that have been recurring between the two countries. A friendship group has been set up on both sides and they will start talks immediately as well and they will be talking on behalf of the two parliaments”.
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