$1m Business Fee: Nigeria, Ghana Parliamentary Leaders Hold Talks Over Trade Dispute

Nigerian and Ghanaian parliamentary leaders on Wednesday commenced a discussion on how to resolve the trade impasse between the two countries.

Speaking at a press conference after a closed-door diplomatic meeting in Abuja, the Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila and his Ghanaian counterpart Alban Sumana Bagbin, said the trade dispute would soon become history.

According to a statement issued after the closed-door meeting, and signed by Gbajabiamila, the Ghanaian lawmaker was admitted to the House to address the members as part of “Parliamentary diplomacy” of Nigeria’s House of Reps.

The trade dispute between both countries arose after the Ghanaian authorities imposed a $1million business participation fee on foreigners seeking to do business in Ghana.

“We got assurance from both sides that the issue of trade dispute will be a thing of the past. We’re now putting up a mechanism to make sure that these issues don’t come up again in the future,” Bagbin said.

Gbajabiamila said the closed-door meeting they held was a successful one as issues of interest to both countries were discussed.

“We’ve more or less concluded the roadmap to achieve lasting solutions to the diplomatic issues with our traders.

“The issue with our traders and the Ghanaian authorities has been addressed today. The Minister of Trade and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs were at the meeting.

“There is a technical committee set up. They will be going to Ghana next week to dot the ‘Is’ and cross the ‘Ts’”, he said.

Gbajabiamila also announced that the two parliaments had established and inaugurated a parliamentary friendship group that would hold talks on the relationship between the two countries.

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“We’ve inaugurated the friendship group, and they will start talking on behalf of the two Parliaments.

“I want to thank you, the Hon. Speaker, for your kind words and your determination to see an end to the issue.

“The issue of the Nigerian embassy in Ghana, the Ghanaian authorities have accepted to take responsibility, though it has nothing to do with them, they said they will put it back,” Gbajabiamila added.

Responding, Bagbin said: “I want to sincerely thank you so much for the invitation. I can only confirm that everything will be put in place to address the issue of trade between our two countries.

“Let’s ensure that the relationship between Ghana and Nigeria remains cordial and mutual. I thank the Speaker for his commitment and enthusiasm on this matter.”

Earlier, Bagbin addressed members of the House at plenary, where he said Ghana and Nigeria had come a long way and that the relationship between the two countries would continue to be cordial and mutual.

According to him, the two countries have been able to address whatever issues that came up between them in the past and that they should be able to do that currently.

Speaker, House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila exchanging pleasantries with his Ghanaian counterpart, Rt. Hon. Kingsford Alban Bagbin after the Speaker of the Ghanaian Parliament addressed members of the House of Representatives in plenary on Wednesday 7th July, 2021.

Addressing Nigerian lawmakers, Bagbin said,  “Rt. Hon. Speaker, I am here just to help bring finality to the impasse. I pledge my commitment and that of the Parliament of Ghana, to contribute in every way possible to end the impasse between traders of our two sister countries.

“In furtherance of that, under my leadership, the Parliament of Ghana has appointed a seven-member committee as Ghana’s delegation to the Joint Committee of Eminent Persons of our Legislatures. They will interact with their Nigerian counterparts towards passing the ‘Ghana-Nigeria Friendship Act.’

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“The Act will set up the proposed ‘Ghana-Nigeria Business Council’, which is intended to provide the legal and institutional framework to sustain the continued friendship and business interests of our people.”

He also appealed to review the prohibition list banning the importation of specific goods and commodities into the Nigerian market from other countries, including Ghana.

This request, he added, is underscored by the resolution as captured in the communique of 31st May 2021 referred to as supra.

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