Nigeria’s Border Closure: Killing businesses in West African region

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John Dramani Mahama
John Dramani Mahama

Ghana’s Ex-President John Mahama has applauded the creation of a joint-security taskforce on the borders between Nigeria and her immediate neighbours as a good first step towards reopening the borders, but warns that the continued delay is harming the economies of the West African region  

By Anayo Ezugwu

GHANA’s former President John Mahama has lent his voice to the concerns raised over the continued closure of the Nigerian land borders and the implications on the economies of the West African region.  Mahama warned that the closure has affected trade along the Lagos – Abidjan corridor.

Mahama told Realnews in an exclusive interview in Lagos that the greatest volume of trade in West Africa take place in the Lagos – Abidjan corridor and because Nigeria is the largest economy in the sub-region, there is a greater inflow of goods from other countries into Nigeria.

Mahama called on the Nigerian government and her immediate neighbours to resolve the issue diplomatically. “I believe that an ECOWAS meeting of the Heads of States should discuss the issues and it could lead to the resolution of problem. Our economic partnerships between Nigerian companies and Ghanaian companies, Nigerian companies and Ivorian companies on different kinds of products, we have exchange of goods along the coast, especially between Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria and that is why we talked about Lagos – Abidjan corridor,” he said.

The former Ghanaian president urged Nigerian neighbours to respect the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme, ETLS. According to him, to be able to export a product into any neighbouring ECOWAS country, 60 percent of the content of the product must be manufactured locally in that country.

“In Ghana, we have different products that we manufacture locally that meet the ETLS standard. So, we have many companies that produce and export into Togo, Benin and Nigeria based on the ETLS standards. It is the same with Nigeria. There are Nigerian manufacturers, who once they meet the ETLS standards are able to export to Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire.

“And so it is an economic activity that we must not kill. Closing your border is the simplest thing to do. Any country can say I’m closing my border to imports from my neighbours. But it doesn’t help to build the kind of integration we are trying to build in West Africa.

“And that is why I’m saying as quickly as possible we must find a solution to it. The action that has been taken in terms of creating a joint-security taskforce on the border between Nigeria and her immediate neighbouring countries, I think is a good first step. I also think that there are other innovations that can be brought-in in order that this problem can be resolved.

“We should do it as quickly as possible. It has lasted since August and it is killing some businesses both in Nigeria and other countries. By the time they probably reopen the border, some businesses that rely on each other’s export may probably have collapsed. There are a lot of Ghanaian manufacturers who export into Nigeria. I need to find out the exact classification of goods that are included.

“Nigeria already has a prohibition list. For instance you can’t bring furniture into Nigeria even when the borders were open. Ghana does a lot of furniture, but we have not been exporting it to Nigeria because Nigeria said they won’t accept furniture from anywhere. But there are other products we are able to export into others market like beverages and things like pharmaceutical, beverages and things like that,” he said.

– Nov. 30, 2019 @ 14:49 GMT |

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