Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, and his Ghanaian counterpart, Mrs Shirley Botchwey, said that both countries had agreed on modalities to resolve the trade challenges arising from the recent border closure.
Both Ministers disclosed this while briefing newsmen on Wednesday in Abuja after a closed-door meeting.
Botchwey, who was accompanied by the Ghanaian Trade Minister, Hon. Alan Kyerematen, would proceed for further discussions with Nigeria’s Trade Minister and Comptroller General of Customs.
According to Onyeama, the meeting between the both countries seeks to address the collateral damage arising out of some mischief, stating that the issues would be addressed as soon as possible.
He assured that after the meeting between the ministers and relevant stakeholders, the challenge of ease of trade between Ghana and Nigeria as a result of the Nigeria-Benin border closure would be resolved quickly.
“You are here to address the issue of collateral damage to your country as a result of the border closure in place at the moment.
“And we are trying to find a way through because the mischief is not related to trade with Ghana.
“We are hoping that from there you will be able to take back a positive message to your President, the business and trade community.
“And we will sort it out as soon as possible because time is of the essence.
“No country is targeted, we are within ECOWAS, we respect the ECOWAS rules, free movement of persons and goods and that should continue; we’re targeting criminal activities and not countries.
“So, in addressing a particular country’s issues, it would not be a disadvantage to another country because for us, it is a measure to address a particular issue,” Onyeama said.
Similarly, Bothwey said that the visit was to bring to fore the challenges being faced by Ghanaian exporters who are currently unable to bring in goods into Nigeria as a result of the Nigerian-Benin border closure.
“We came here with the issues and within a few minutes of our meeting we have sort of found common grounds in resolving it and from here we would be going to meet with Minister of Trade and also the customs boss.
“We are hoping that quickly we should resolve the issues so that our export into Nigeria will continue to have safe passage without any impediment as a result of what is not supposed to affect Ghana negatively.
“For thirty days or so, we have several trucks that have been sucked at the Benin side of the border, they haven’t been able to cross into Nigeria and hopefully this will be a thing of the past.
“We have agreed on the process that would lead to it being resolved and the first is to give our Nigerian counterparts more details.
“Details of the companies that do business in Nigeria, the kind of business that they do and the details of the trucks that have been stucked on the Benin side of the border.
“Once we are able to give them that, both sides will determine the modalities that we need to put in place for the safe passage,” Botchwey said.
Botchwey said that at the moment, there was no impediment on the way of Nigerian businesses that export their goods into Ghana.
She described the meeting as a fruitful one and expressed optimism on the meetings with Nigeria’s Trade Minister and Comptroller General of Customs to put in place measures to resolve the issues as quickly as possible.
Also speaking, Kyerematen said that Nigerians and Ghanaians have been trading for a long time, hence, the need for a practical approach to solving problems.
He said that occasionally in business, challenges come up but the most important thing was to have a formula for dealing with challenges when they come up.
Responding to the trade tussle with Nigerian spare part dealers in Ghana, Kyerematen said that the issue was resolved immediately and normalcy had been restored for Nigerians trading in Ghana.
“We need within the context of ECOWAS to try and deal with some of these challenges in a more structured way.
“Yes, there is domestic legislation in our country that basically has being the basis for the representation that has been made by the Ghanaian traders.
“On the side of the Nigerian traders they have also made references to the ECOWAS protocol which also has provisions that support them.
“I am pleased that we have found a way to work together to deal with these problems,” Kyerematen said.