He also admonished the governments of Ghana and Nigeria to immediately resolve the crises that prevail within their domestic markets.
While Nigeria closed its borders in a bid to check smuggling, Ghana has a raging conflict between local traders and foreigners in the retail market.
Delivering the 7th Real News Magazine Anniversary Lecture in Lagos Nigeria, the former President called on the Nigerian government to immediately strengthen its structures to check the illegal importation of goods so the borders can be reopened.
“The unilateral closure of the Nigeria border since August is a very worrying development for the growth of free trade in the ECOWAS sub-region. One can understand the harmful effects of the unbridled smuggling of goods on the growth of local production. But it is problematic that sub-regional economic activity and trade should suffer because of domestic institutional weaknesses.”
“Nigeria must invest in strengthening its institutions and systems that are responsible for the importation of illegal or prohibited goods. The total closure especially the Benin border is having a toll on many SMEs especially in Togo, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire that rely on inter-country trade for survival. Businesses in Nigeria that also rely on supplies from this area are also suffering. With the signing of the joint task force agreement within Nigeria and her neighbours, I want to appeal to Nigeria to open up its borders so that economic activities can resume.”
Nigeria closed its border to stop what it called the smuggling of products from its neighbouring West African countries into the country.
The action taken by Nigeria was to express its displeasure at the attitude of the Beninese authorities in order to elicit their cooperation.
Several calls for the country to open the border have been unsuccessful.
After three months of closing the border, Nigeria extended the period for the closure of its frontiers to other countries till January 31, 2020.
The closure which was expected to be in force for twenty-eight (28) days, was extended as a result of the ‘overwhelming success’ the closure had chalked in the face of the country’s economy and security.
GUTA had earlier urged the government to replicate Nigeria’s decision to protect its market from smuggled goods.
The President of the Association, Dr. Joseph Obeng said Ghana should learn from Nigeria and also sanitize its sector.
Meanwhile, there have been moves by the Ministries of Trade and Industry, Foreign Affairs and some other groups to meet with representatives from Nigeria to set out modalities on how Ghanaian traders may easily cross the Nigerian-Benin border with their goods.