Business News of 2014-04-07

Nigeria bullying the rest of West Africa – Mahama

Ghana’s President says Nigeria’s tall list of trade prohibitions has stunted regional trade and by extension, frustrated economic integration in the sub region.

John Mahama told an audience of the Africa Summit at the London School of Economics that he found it befuddling that Africa’s most populous country is not respecting the Trade Liberalisation Scheme of the Economic Community of West African States.

Already seen as an economic giant in Africa, the country just became the Continent’s biggest economic hub after a rebasing exercise which resulted in the oil-rich West African country nudging off South Africa from the top.

Its GDP for 2013 totalled 80.3 trillion naira (£307.6bn: $509.9bn). That compares with South Africa's GDP of $370.3bn at the end of 2013.

Its GDP now includes previously uncounted industries like telecoms, information technology, music, online sales, airlines, and film production.

Mr Mahama says Nigeria’s protectionist measures do not bode well for regional trade and integration, adding that the country has more responsibility to foster the integration agenda since it wields tremendous economic power in the sub region.

“I believe that Nigeria has a certain kind of responsibility in West Africa, because it is the largest economy and the most populous country.”

The Ghanaian President added that: “Nigeria has nothing to fear from Ghana in terms of competition. Nigeria has nothing to fear from Cote D’lvoire in terms of competition. Nigeria has nothing to fear from Benin or Togo or Niger in terms of competition and yet year in, year out, there is a prohibition list,” he bewailed.

Mahama believes Nigeria must fritter off any such fears harboured since the country’s actions, based on such fears, are hurting the entire region.

“I think it is a certain misconception and a certain not really tangible fear that if the market is open it will bring competition and make some people lose out in the Nigerian market,” he observed.

He wondered why Nigeria prohibits textiles and processed goods from Ghana even though his country has products that have registered under the ETLS and signed the protocol on the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation.