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Protest Over ECOWAS Trade Concession
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Ghanaian traders have sneered at government’s plans to grant concession to Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) citizens to operate in the retail industry.

They petitioned the Ministry of Trade and Industry through the Inter-Agency Task Force set up to ensure compliance with the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre Act 1994, citing a number of reasons for their stand.

To the traders, the move is in violation of the law and threatens the livelihood of indigenous traders.

“We are aware the ECOWAS Protocol allows free movement of people, goods and services among member states for a period of 90 days and we in Ghana must abide by it.”

A spokesperson of the traders at the Central Business District- Kantamanto, the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, Okiashie and Tudu, Adjoa Adjeiwaa, who was unhappy with the takeover of the retail sector by non-Ghanaians, said there was the need to bring sanity in the open markets.

To ensure compliance with the protocol, she called for a relook of the 90 days rule to “forestall abuse not only in Ghana but also in the entire member states.”

Though the traders affirmed their respect for the ECOWAS Protocol, they said “we shall however not succumb to interference or pressure from any quarter that may inconvenience, frustrate, intimate or discourage the law abiding citizens of our sovereign state who have been very polite in seeking the enforcement of the existing law of the land.”

Also, whereas the law requires non Ghanaians to meet a threshold of $300,000 and employ a maximum of 10 Ghanaians, ECOWAS citizens have been exempted from this.

“We would like to appeal to the minister to take a second look at this decision in order to avoid any future crises especially as it appears there is no conformity with a common framework for investment for the sub regional body.”

In a related development, the Chairman of the Nigerian community Board of Trustees, Emmanuel Okeson praised the government of Ghana for granting concessions following series of interactions with leadership of ECOWAS.

Ghana is a signatory of the ECOWAS Treaty which established the freedom of movement, trade and residence, among member countries in the West African Region.

It would be recalled that following calls from members of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) over the domination of non-Ghanaians in the retail sector, which is the preserve of indigenes, the Ministry of Trade issued a directive for foreigners to vacate the local markets.

The enactment of the 1983 Alien Compliance Order led to the repatriation of Nigerians. The Nigerian government retaliated by the sending close to a million Ghanaians in that country home.
Source: Daily Guide

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