All information and counter-argument are gotten from government websites, related articles, interviews with affect people, Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) Act 865, and Ghana constitution.
As we all know the Ghana Union of Traders Association (G.U.T.A) struck again, they have once again marched into the legally owned retail shops of Nigerian traders and closed these shops.
In the closing of these Nigerian shops people were beating and rights violated, as many of the Nigerian traders are married to Ghanaian women or men and have children born in Ghana, these Nigerians by virtue of marriage and their permanent residence in Ghana are entitled to trade in country but just because they sound Nigerian, G.U.T.A has across the board proceeded to lock their shops even without putting into consideration these people’s cases and the constitution protecting these people.
According to Section 28(5) of Act 865, the minimum foreign capital requirements to invest in Ghana including for engaging in trading, do not apply to the foreign spouse of a citizen of Ghana.
In this article, I will take my time to analyze the claim of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (G.U.T.A) and show its legality based on fact and evidence and leave it to you the reader to ascertain if truly the actions of G.U.T.A are justified or this is just another black man’s self-hate in actualization, another xenophobic move where black man attempts to frustrate his own brother while he praises his oppressors with arms raised and all 32 denticles on the display.
G.U.T.A has always maintained that the reason for their actions against Nigerian traders in Accra and Kumasi mainly, is because the Nigerian traders are in violation of the Ghana constitution due to the fact that they are foreigners and should not be engaging in retailing, they also claim that Nigerian traders MUST pay the minimum required investment amount for a foreigner to be able to trade in Ghana (Minimum amount for foreigners is One Million Dollars)
FACTS OF THE MATTER BASED ON THE GHANA CONSTITUTION
The Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) is an agency of the Government of the Republic of Ghana and established under the GIPC Act, 2013 (Act 865) to among others, encourage and promote investments in Ghana and to provide for the creation of an attractive incentive framework and a transparent, predictable and facilitating environment for investments in Ghana.
One of the inaccuracies of the claim that foreigners can not retail in Ghana is based on the fact that the constitution does not use the word “RETAILING” rather the Ghana constitution prohibits foreigners from engaging in certain types of businesses and trading in particular places.
These are the full official list of ventures that foreigners are prohibited from engaging in by Ghana law:
- the operation of taxi or car hire service in an enterprise that has a fleet of less than twenty-five vehicles
- the operation of a beauty salon or a barbershop
- the printing of recharge scratch cards for the use of subscribers of telecommunication services
- the production of exercise books and other basic stationery
- the retail of finished pharmaceutical products
- the production, and retail of sachet water
Places, where a FOREIGNER may not trade, include the sale of goods or provision of services in a market, petty trading or hawking or selling of goods in a stall at any place.
A person who is not a citizen may engage in a trading enterprise if that person invests in the enterprise, not less than One Million United States Dollars in cash or goods and services relevant to the investments. Section 28(3) of Act 865 further provides that “trading” includes the purchasing and selling of imported goods and services. A further condition imposed on foreign enterprises that intend to engage in trading by Section 28(4) is that such an enterprise must employ at least twenty (20) skilled Ghanaians.
The above sections and Acts are very straight-forward in its instructions but what if I told G.U.T.A that there are two major factors that negate these laws on being implemented on people from African countries under ECOWAS and AU, especially NIGERIA in particular.
THE TWO MAIN FACTORS THAT RENDERS THE G.U.T.A ARGUMENT AND ACTION ILLEGITIMATE AND ILLEGAL:
- FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS/TREATIES.
FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS AND TREATIES:
This is a trade pact which influences in a major way the tariffs and duties that countries impose on imports and exports with the goal of reducing or eliminating trade barriers, thus encouraging international trade. Such agreements usually “center on a chapter providing for preferential tariff treatment”, but they also often “include clauses on trade facilitation and rule-making in areas such as investment, intellectual property, government procurement, technical standards and sanitary and phytosanitary issues”.
In summary a free trade agreement or treaty is a trade pact between two or more nations to give the nationals of those nations who signed the pact preferential treatment in trading within the countries of the free trade zone, a free trade simply means that members of the country of a free trade zone get to be treated as citizens of the countries of the free trade zone when it comes to trade and commerce.
The government of Ghana has not been clear on how this should be implemented on ECOWAS nationals, as ECOWAS citizens in Ghana continue to be treated like any other foreigner without any regard for the free trade treaties. I think the Ghana government has been slow in specifying how these treaties affect the ECOWAS nationals trading in Ghana.
Ghana is part of the ECOWAS free trade zone that was signed on 28 May, 1975.
Now understanding that in Ghana ECOWAS nationals are treated no differently from a Chinese national after the signing of this treaty is not only disturbing but illegal, if we are to approach this matter based on the treaty with ECOWAS.
Most people are not aware but Ghana is also bound by another treaty it signed on 30 May 2019 for the 24 countries that had deposited their instruments of ratification. It is called AfCFTA AFRICAN CONTINENT FREE TRADE AREA, one of the principals of this particular free trade agreement is RECIPROCITY.
No other country in Africa treats African traders the way Ghana G.U.T.A has done, the blatant disregard the rights of those who are protected by signed treaties and international legislation is worrisome.
Although Nigeria did not sign this agreement, I have added this treaty to my argument because G.U.T.A are throwing a lot of other ECOWAS nationals who are part of the two treaties out of the market and locking their shops too.
With G.U.T.A taking the law into their hands without repercussions, what message are Ghanaian government sending to their neighbors and the international community?
Under a free trade agreement, it is illegal to require one million dollars from a member of the free trade zone before they can conduct business in Ghana, and G.U.T.A taking the laws into their hands and throwing the traders out is a sign of a lack of control of the citizens of Ghana by the Ghanaian government.
G.U.T.A has also neglected to take into consideration that a good 30% to 40% of those traders being forced out of their shops and their business closed are married to Ghanaians and are permanently residing in Ghana with their family.
According to Section 28(5) of Act 865, the minimum foreign capital requirements to invest in Ghana including for engaging in trading, do not apply to the foreign spouse of a citizen of Ghana to the extent that
- the foreign spouse is or has been married to a citizen of Ghana for a minimum period of five years continuously or holds an indefinite resident permit prior to registration of an enterprise;
- the marriage has been duly verified as having been validly conducted;
- the foreign spouse is ordinarily resident in Ghana
In relation to the above, Section 28(6) of Act 865 further provides that a citizen of Ghana who loses his or her citizenship by reason of the assumption of the citizenship of another country shall not be required to comply with the minimum capital requirements including that of engaging in trading. Foreigners who fulfill this minimum requirement for trading are prohibited from trading in markets, stores and stalls. Foreigners are also prohibited from hawking.
The actions of the Ghana Union of Traders Association on Nigerians primarily is illegal, this is why they insisted that no one record them locking up shops. They also beat up and threatened all who attempted to record the event, if truly they are doing the right thing then why insist on not being recorded, please bear in mind that these people were accompanied by Ghana police who were beating up the Nigerian traders as can be shown in the video.
G.U.T.A is showing the entire world that they have more power than the government of Ghana, ECOWAS and African Union combined. I hope to appeal to the Ghanaian government to please do the right thing and act soon, such a blatant disregard for law and order must be dealt with. Actions by G.U.T.A will eventually lead to sanctions and that is a blow Ghana does not need in these trying times.
Nigerians can not violate the trading laws that are being referred to, the issue here is that members of G.U.T.A have an issue with accepting that Nigerians have as much right as they do to trade freely in Ghana. Rather than come together and implement rules that even the playing field for Ghanaian traders, they have resorted to bullying.
Let us also bear in mind that Ghanaians are trading in Nigeria without issue, they are actually enjoying the benefits of the free trade why Nigerians are being beaten up and violated constantly by G.U.T.A in Accra and Kumasi of Ghana.
G.U.T.A does not have the constitutional right to do what they are doing to Nigerian traders in any capacity, they are supposed to forward their complaints to The Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, who have the constitutional power to take action if the Nigerian Traders are violating in any way. But they have not done this, rather they take the law they do not clearly understand into their own hands.
If nothing is done, then everyone may as well descend into savagery because it is clear that the rule of law does not apply in West Africa and in this case Ghana.
Finally, I will like the reader to understand that the actions of G.U.T.A in no way reflects the ideology of most Ghanaians, a lot know better and it is with the blessings of these Ghanaians who understand that we are stronger working together, that I have put together this article for your consumption.
ECOWAS and A.U the world watches, if this can happen and you do nothing then you will be looked at as nothing but a mirage that can not even take actions to protects its own laws from blatant violation. Please do not let this matter escalate beyond this, once Nigeria retaliates, things may devolve into blood baths…