Hon. Hannah Tetteh, Minister for Trade and Industry Ghana and Nigeria have confirmed plans to deepen trade relations, despite a long-running ban on the importation of some items from Ghana imposed by Nigeria.
As part of measures to restore full trade links between the two countries, a joint task force from the Trade Ministries of the two countries has been formed to inspect manufacturing facilities of companies registered under the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) in both countries.
The purpose is to ensure compliance with rules of origin and provisions that ensure that exports from a country have the pre-determined percentage of raw materials from the local economy.
The agreement was reached when the Minister for Trade and Industry,Â Ms Hannah Tetteh, paid a courtesy call on the Nigerian Minister of State for Federal Commerce and Industry, Mr Humphrey Enemakwu Abah, in Abuja, in Nigeria.
Nigeria has banned the importation of many items, including cassava products, rice, fruit juice and many others that it locally produces, despite the existence of the ETLS, an ECOWAS protocol which promotes the free movement of goods and services within the West African sub-region.
The protocol notwithstanding, Nigeria has rigidly enforced the ban with the conviction that most of the goods and services from Ghana and other West African countries that enter its shores come from factories that only add little value to semi-finished goods and intermediary raw materials predominantly sourced from Europe and Asian countries, without the use of raw materials from West Africa.
The two trade ministries see the joint task force as a major step in integrating the two economies for seamless trade and commerce and the free movement of capital and persons.
The meeting, which also discussed the proposed bilateral trade agreement between the two countries, was a follow-up to an earlier one on March 30 at the same venue.
The two groups also discussed alleged discrimination against Nigeria traders in Ghana under the Ghana Investment Promotion Act that bars foreigners from selling (trading) in areas designated as markets.
Some Nigerians are said to be selling and competing for space in the second-hand clothing markets of Makola, Tema Station, Agbogbloshie, among other places, althoughÂ thoseÂ wares are banned in Nigeria.
They also described the Bank of Ghana’s directive for all foreign banks in the country, including Nigerian banks, to shore up their capital to GHÂ¢60million by the close of the year as discriminatory.
On alleged discrimination against Nigerian traders, Ms Tetteh assured the Nigerian Trade Minister that her outfit is working closely with the Ghana Union of Traders Associations (GUTA) to help resolve the issue.
To that end, she called for the strengthening of the Ghana-Nigeria Chamber of Commerce as a way o getting around such difficulties.
Ms Tetteh also impressed upon her counterpart to endeavour to remove some of the existing trade restrictions which made it difficult for products from Ghana to access the Nigerian market, the biggest in West Africa.
The Trade and Industry Minister also visited the Abuja International Trade Fair and interacted with the 20 Ghanaian exhibitors, including the Ghana Export Promotion Council and the Ghana Free Zone Board.
She and some officials from Ghana Missions in Nigeria also visited the Director-General of the Abuja Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, the organisers of the fair.