The Chinese and the Local Traders

Until recently, the Ghanaian trader enjoyed greater gains in his/her trade. However, the continuous increase in Chinese and other foreign small businesses in Ghana have undeniably had a toll on many Ghanaian traders.

There are clear-cut laws that prohibit foreigners from trading in our market centers so that the locals can engage in petty trading activities to earn a living and to cater for the home. However, this has not been strictly adhered to. As a result, many foreigners, largely Chinese have infiltrated
our market centers and have taken over a greater portion of trading in our markets.

According to GIPC Act 478, 1994 particularly section 18 reserves retail trading,
petty trading, hawking and all kinds of trading in the markets for Ghanaians. However, this has been fluttered with impunity. In the words of the Minister, ‘The blatant disregard of our laws by some Non-Ghanaians engaged in retail trading has become so endemic.’

The seeming infiltration of the Chinese in the Ghanaian economy has raised many questions about the commitment of our leaders to defend the interest of the citizens of this country.

In one breath, the government is seen to be reluctant and lacks the commitment to take the necessary steps to protect and defend the economic rights of the people of Ghana. There is no nation that will shy away from protecting the rights of her citizens as against that of foreigners. The increasing number of Chinese citizens in the Ghanaian markets especially in market centers and small scale mining is undoubtedly disturbing; especially as the country is grappling with mass graduate unemployment. The government seems to be very concerned about this issue but on the grounds little work seems to be going on.

According to the Minister of Trade and Industry, Hon. Hanna Tetteh, ‘the intention of the Act is to ensure that Ghanaians in the micro and small enterprise sector are not subjected to the kind of competition from foreign businesses that would make it unprofitable for them to operate. The provision in the GIPC Act 1994 is to protect the local retailer and at the same time encourage the foreign business to engage in large scale value added trading operations.’

In another breath, the government of Ghana wants to protect her trade and international relationship with other countries and would therefore want to be very cautious in dealing with this issue.  In a press release dated 3rd July, 2012, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Hon. Hanna Tetteh revealed that ‘We are mindful of the ECOWAS protocols on the right to establish, however we must point out that the protocol provides that ECOWAS citizens have the right to establish businesses in the same manner as Ghanaians.’

While encouraging foreign direct investments, it is very needful for our government to safeguard markets and more opportunities for its citizens so that such investments become ultimately beneficial to Ghanaians. What will be the need for foreign direct investments in the country if it does not create more opportunities for the indigenes that are highly unemployed? The Ministry of Trade and Industry must need be put its foot down and leave no stone unturned to safeguard the economic rights of the citizens of Ghana.

Editor’s Note: The writer, Michael Anaman Mensah, is a Business Administration consultant. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA) with a B.Sc. (Hons) Degree in Business Administration.

Jerome Kuseh

Accountant | Economist-in-Training | Finance Blogger

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