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Nigerian-owned shops in Ghana forced to close by traders: union

Kumasi, Ghana's second city
Kumasi, Ghana's second city Maven Egote/Wikimedia Commons/CCAS4.0

Foreign-owned shops in Ghana’s second city of Kumasi, have been forced to close by local traders angry with their illegal presence, according to the head of the country's trade union.

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Joseph Obeng, president of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), said local markets were being invaded by foreigners. 

Traders have accused them of selling cheaper products.

"Many businesses, especially those owned by Nigerians, are not legal," he told AFP.

Foreigners are not allowed to own shops or work in retail in Ghana, but this law is not enforced.

In August, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari declared all land borders closed in order to prevent any import or export of products via road as a way of combatting illegal goods in their market.

The move goes against favourable trade provisions set out by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) that promotes movement and trade across the region's borders.

Traders in Kumasi, in the south, want the Ghanaian government to hit back at Nigeria with financial measures and basic law enforcement. Ghana and neighbouring countries have been hit by Nigeria’s ultra-protectionist stance.

But Ghanaian officials have called on traders to call off the forced closures and blockades in the streets, believing that any clampdown could strain relations with Nigeria.

"Their economy is six times more important than ours, why go into confrontation with them?” said Radio Carlos Ahenkorah, the Ghanaian Minister of Commerce.

“I'm on the side of GUTA, I just want us to take our time to find a solution,” he added.

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