Africa: Retaliation Over Nigeria Border Closure, Detrimental to Intra-African Trade

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Any move by the Ghanaian authorities to retaliate Nigeria’s border closure would worsen the impasse and inhibit intra-African trade, an International Relations expert, Dr Vladimir Antwi-Danso has said.

He therefore, advocates dialogue with the Nigerian authorities since that was the best option, saying “There is nothing we can do apart from dialoguing because I don’t see any force action that can change the status quo and so dialogue is the order.”

“Every country is trying to be protectionist, America is doing it, China is doing it, but the only thing we can do is to dialogue because anybody who believes in belligerent approach to trade matters is not being realistic,” Dr Antwi-Danso advised.

Dr Antwi-Danso told the Ghana News Agency in Accra on Tuesday that, the knee-jerk reaction by the Nigerian authorities would not promote trade integration in the sub-region.

He described the border closure as unfortunate, especially coming at a time African leaders were trying to promote intra-African trade through the setting up of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Notwithstanding, Dr Antwi-Danso said every country had the right under its sovereign laws to prevent prohibited goods from entering its market despite being a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

He therefore, suggested that ECOWAS member countries could report the stand-off to the WTO since Nigeria was a signatory to international trade conventions that advocate trade facilitation.

Nigeria closed its borders with Benin on August 21, this year, to prevent the entry of contraband goods, including rice from Benin, and this has also affected other West African countries, including Ghana.

In the past six weeks, many trucks loaded with goods destined for Nigeria were stranded at the Keme-Krake border due to the closure. Last month, a Ghanaian delegation, led by Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Ghana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration and Mr Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen, the Minister of Trade and Industry, met the Nigerian authorities in Abuja, to negotiate the passage of Ghanaian goods through the Nigerian borders.

Another delegation led by Mr Carlos Ahenkorah, a Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry and Mr Charles Owiredu, a Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, followed up on the first visit.

But it was reported that the Nigeria authorities had extended the border closure till the end of January 2020.

Dr Antwi-Danso opined that the Nigerian authorities could have reported the Beninoise authorities to the WTO for unfair trade practices and sought compensation through Dispute Settlement Understanding, rather than closing the borders.

—Dr Antwi-Danso

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