Editorial : Lifting border restrictions in the offing

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As the coronavirus restrictions are gradually eased, businesses yearn for re-opening of the country’s borders so that economic activity can be heightened.

An IHS Markit Ghana survey conducted has revealed that border closures have restricted companies’ ability import goods; thereby resulting in shortage of raw materials and leading to a hike of their prices.

It is against this backdrop that businesses say reopening the borders is essential to increasing economic activity.

It will be recalled that the World Bank, in April, cautioned African governments to keep their trade borders open, as their continuous closure would raise prices and limit the supply of COVID-19-related goods and food to critically affected areas or hotspots.

Economic commentators believe the severity of the COVID-19 downturn has been such that it will take a sustained period of solid growth to recover fully. That said, many are of the opinion that President Akufo-Addo in his next national address will give an indication as to when our borders will be reopened to the world as countries in Europe are opening-up their borders – though only to a list of countries determined by the EU.

The EU Council on June 30th adopted a recommendation on the gradual lifting of temporary restrictions on non-essential travel into the EU. Though the Council’s recommendation is not a legally binding instrument, authorities of the member-states remain responsible for implementing contents of the recommendation.

Also, ministers from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) sub-region have recommended a gradual re-opening of member-states’ borders in the first half of July. Therefore, businesses needn’t worry too much as restrictions are being gradually eased and economic activity can bounce back to life, even though we feel it shouldn’t be done at the risk of spreading the virus.

This new recommendation was contained in a communique from a virtual meeting that was held recently by Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministers from West African countries. They called for coordinated efforts to re-establish cross-border trade that has been seriously hampered by lockdowns and restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Recommendations from the ministers are expected to be presented to ECOWAS heads of state at a forthcoming summit.

Travel restrictions for the land, air, and sea borders as part of measures to contain the dangerous spread of coronavirus disease have delayed take-off of the African Free Trade Zone (AfCFTA).

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