GHANA’S Export Promotion Authority (Gepa) has commended the Nigeria government for allowing its products to be brought into the country for the ongoing Lagos International Trade Fair despite the ongoing border closure.
Last week, President Muhammadu Buhari extended Nigeria’s ongoing border closure programme until January 31 as part of the government’s plans to limit the influx of cheap imports through neighbouring ports like Cotonou in the Republic of Benin. Of late, Nigeria has sought to limit the volume of her imports by stepping up the production of goods such as cement and rice in a bid to save foreign exchange.
With local producers unable to compete with these cheap imports, Nigeria decided to shut her borders, which has led to economic hardship in neighbouring Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) nations. Ecowas member states have been pressing Nigeria to re-open her borders, saying that the closure is costing them dear as perishable goods are rotting away at their ports.
However, Nigeria is wary of the fact that most of these goods, particularly rice and cement are produced in Asian countries like China, Thailand, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka, so are not covered by the Ecowas protocol. Nigeria’s government has come up with a compromise saying that it will open her borders to neighbouring countries if all imports have at least 30% local input in line with the Ecowas free trade protocol.
Special dispensation has been made, however, for the Lagos International Trade Fair, currently taking place, which opened on November 1 and will last until November 10. Samuel Dentu, Gepa’s deputy chief executive said that Nigeria’s border closure almost caused difficulties in bringing exhibition products to the fair but for the timely intervention by relevant government authorities.
Mr Dentu added: “As a fallout of what is happening with the border closure, we had a bit of issues getting the products coming here for exhibition but we worked with the Nigeria customs and our embassy in Lagos and we were able to get to the fair. Nigeria’s government has helped us by taking Ghanaians to borders to negotiate and our goods were released, which shows that the government of Nigeria has been magnanimous enough to help us so far.
“We have been working with authorities here to make sure that we don’t suffer collateral damage as far as the closure is concerned. We eventually pulled through it because of the cordial relationship that we had with Nigeria authorities.”
He said that Ghanaians preferred to exhibit their products in Nigeria because of the similarity in language and products and above all, the brotherly relationship. According to Mr Dentu trade barriers do not stop the smooth relationship between both countries.