In a move that has potential diplomatic ramifications, Burkina Faso’s Military leader, Ibrahim Traoré, has announced that his country will engage in consultations with Mali and Niger to make a final decision on whether to permit Ghanaian traders and other West African nationals to conduct business within their borders.
Traoré affirmed Burkina Faso’s commitment to pan-Africanism, expressing openness to Africans wishing to visit the country. However, he stated that a conclusive determination on trade matters, particularly involving Ghana, Nigeria, and other West African countries, would be reached after consultations among the leaders of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger.
“We remain pan-African. Anyone in Africa or an African who wants to come to Burkina is welcomed. We will decide what measures to take in due course regarding traders coming from Ghana, Nigeria, and other West African countries,” Traoré stated.
The recent announcement of the departure of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) trading bloc has raised concerns, especially for the Ghana Union of Traders (GUTA). The union expressed apprehension about the potential impact on their members who import vegetables and livestock from Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger.
Dr. Joseph Obeng, President of GUTA, highlighted the significant trade activities, including cross-border trading and the exchange of goods like cola nuts, onions, tomatoes, and other commodities between these West African nations.
“This thing is going to affect us more than the other member states. We should bypass ECOWAS to find an immediate solution,” said Dr. Obeng, urging a swift resolution to address the potential negative repercussions on trade.
Ibrahim Traore defended the decision to depart from ECOWAS, emphasizing that it was a well-considered move and not a result of sudden frustration. He clarified, “It’s not a burst of anger. If it was an outburst, we would have done it a long time ago.”
The situation remains fluid, and the outcome of the consultations between Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger will likely have broader implications for regional trade relations. Stakeholders are closely watching developments as diplomatic tensions unfold in the aftermath of the decision to exit the ECOWAS trading bloc.