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Saturday, December 4, 2021

GUTA president reveals new terms reached for Nigerian participation in retail trade

President of GUTA, Dr. Joseph ObengPresident of GUTA, Dr. Joseph Obeng

The impasse between Ghanaian traders and their Nigerian counterparts looks to be closing in on a resolution.

Trade tensions between the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) and the Nigeria Union of Traders, Ghana (NUTAG), have been on the rise over the past decade, over what the former terms as infiltration of the retail market by foreigners.

The bone of contention has been whether it is lawful or otherwise for these foreigners, particularly Nigerians to engage in the retail trade on Ghanaian soil.

It would be recalled that, the Greater Accra Regional Chairman of GUTA, David Kwadwo Amoateng, on Eye on Port in 2019, stated vehemently that the GIPC Law 865, as well as the ECOWAS protocol on import of trade, is clear, and accordingly, any practice not in line with them, are illegal.

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The President of the NUTAG however, called for harmonization of the GIPC Law with that of ECOWAS.

More than two years down the line, there remains significant agitations among the trade groups, but an agreement has been reached on the way forward.

Speaking on Eye on Port, this Sunday, President of the Ghanaian Union of Traders Association (GUTA), Dr. Joseph Obeng, revealed that a special dispensation has been arranged and will hopefully see the matter resolved.

He explained that “the special dispensation gives our brothers from Nigeria who have been here before 2020 the opportunity to present their documents for clearance to qualify under the dispensation to trade so with time they can regularize with the GIPC and peacefully coexist with us.”

Apparently, these documents expected include the list of NUTAG membership, tenancy agreements and related business registrations to verify their legitimacy.

Dr. Obeng intimated that there has been a negative response from the Nigerian counterparts.

“First they pleaded for time to produce the documents for scrutiny and acceptance into the special dispensation. When the time was up, they said they could not comply with the terms of reference there and want to enjoy the equal rights of the locals. That infuriated us and we thought they are taking us for a ride,” he narrated.

He was emphatic however that the special dispensation does not cover retail traders who came aboard after 2020.

The GUTA President said these concessions have only been agreed to, by his outfit due to the magnanimity of Ghanaians, and that the law is on the side of complete removal of foreigners in the retail trade.

The President of the Nigeria Union of Traders Association, Ghana (NUTAG), Chief Chukwuemeka Nnaji explained the dynamics for which providing the documents has been such a hurdle.

Chief Nnaji said, “when the issue came up about dispensation of time, I told them all who had their shops locked last year qualify. Why not open and have them acquire the documents as they reopen their shops. They refused. But our issue here is, some could not find these documents because many have gone home since they do not have business here.”

He diffused the arguments that suggest that their inability to submit the requisite documents is a calculated attempt to frustrate the work of the committee on Foreign retail trade.

Chief Chukwuemeka Nnaji disclosed that their shops remain closed by GUTA members and they’re finding it difficult to make ends meet, as their source of livelihood has been removed.

“Some have had their shops closed since December 2, 2019 and that affected Circle and areas in Ashanti Region. November 30 last year affected Abossey-Okai and there has been a recent one. It has been very difficult for us. Circle alone was about 160 shops,” he bemoaned.

The GUTA President clarified that this brouhaha would not have existed in the first place if these Nigerian traders were retailing goods that complied with the ECOWAS rules of origin.

Dr. Obeng, yet, urged Ghanaians to be circumspect when buying from the open market and not be swayed by cheap prices but to always look out for quality.

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