Address use of Non-tariff Barriers to Trade among African countries, says LCCI

Babatunde Ruwase

The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) says the desired regional and continental economic integration will remain elusive, if the use of Non-tariff Barriers to Trade (NTBs) among African countries is not addressed.

Mr Babatunde Ruwase, the President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), made the assertion at a forum on ECOWAS Integration and the Challenges of Nigerian Traders in Ghana on Wednesday in Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Non-tariff Barriers to Trade (NTBs) are trade barriers that restrict imports or exports of goods or services through mechanisms other than the simple imposition of tariffs.

Ruwase said that the region offers potential market of 386 million people, and such opportunity might be unattainable without full market integration.

According to him, the use of domestic policies that negate the spirit of economic integration in the sub-region limit bilateral ties among member countries.

“After 43 years of ECOWAS, we are still grappling with numerous tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade.

“There are numerous institutional and infrastructure problems militating against the lofty objectives of ECOWAS.

“We, therefore, need to tackle the current frustrating barriers to trade in the sub-region.

“The trade treaties are not being fully implemented. Compliance levels are very low and commitment to the trade protocols is very weak,’’ he said.

Also, Chukwuemeka Nnaji, President, Nigeria Union of Traders Association, Ghana (NUTAG), said that Ghana’s use of its Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) Act 865, Section 27 (1a) of 2013, flouts the provisions on rules of engagement.

Nnaji said that while Ghana continues to enjoy the privileges conferred on ECOWAS citizens in the region, the government and its people continue to prohibit other citizens from doing same in Ghana.

“Despite the discussions between Nigerian and Ghanaian Governments at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the ordeal of Nigerian traders in Ghana escalated as the Ghana Union Traders Association took a different turn by attacking businesses in the Ashanti Region.

“Getting a residence permit is more difficult than getting U.S green card. The conditions are enormous.

“Already, we are advising Nigerian traders to leave Ghana until the challenges are addressed, especially as Ghana Immigration Services are equally cracking down on foreigners, particularly Nigerians,” he said.

Also, Sintim Barimah-Asare, Representative of the Ghana High Commission, appealed for calm and understanding among operators, adding that his country remains committed to the ECOWAS Treaty.

Barimah-Asare said that Ghanaian Government seeks to protect its petty traders from undue competition.

According to him, the GIPC Law is for medium and large enterprises and not for micro businesses.

In her remarks, Ms Abiola Ogunbiyi, Representative of the Nigeria-Ghana Business Council, sought for understanding of the provisions of the ECOWAS Treaty.

Ogunbiyi pointed out that while provisions of the regional integration treaty presupposes that things are working, the reality was different. (NAN)

– Oct. 31, 2018 @ 18:59 GMT |

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