Representatives of some of the important players in the maritime trading industry have admitted a correlation between election activities and its impact on trading.
President of the Association of Customs House Agents of Ghana, (ACHAG), Yaw Kyei who was speaking on Eye on Port a day prior to the elections, said although trading in terms of importation continues as usual, some traders sometimes suspend the importation of goods in order to avoid any ad-hoc economic policies that may affect business in general.
He added that although very unlikely, some traders also do not rule out the possibility of social unrest and certain violent public activities like rioting that may occur as a result of the outcomes of elections, thus they suspend large scale trading activities.
“There could be pockets of violence here and there. People break into warehouses and it could also be that militia can come to the port and seize operations at the port and you may not be able to transport your goods from the port to the warehouses. We are guided by the fact that things like these may happen to us especially when they have happened in some other African countries,” he said.
Yaw Kyei, however, noted that, with the indefinite suspension of the law to ban importation of salvaged vehicles, there has been a rush by dealers in such vehicles to take advantage of the suspension, as they may not know what the outcomes of the elections may present.
“They (importers) will call you and ask that what has happened to the policy on salvaged vehicles which is currently on hold. Assuming party A wins and decides to continue with the implementation of the policy it means if you has imported early one could have beaten the deadline,” he said.
Speaking as a panelist on the same program, the President of the Ghana Union of Traders Association, (GUTA), Dr. Joseph Obeng, who shared similar views said traders are very calculative in these periods when making trade decisions.
“The businessman is very rational and very cautious by reading the times to do our businesses. So if there is a general anxiety as a result of a pending election then definitely we know that it will affect the way we do our business,” he said.
He said this year in particular, trading still continues and therefore any decline in trading activities is more attributable to the continued effects of COVID-19.
“The only delay that has occurred is associated with the Covid. Most people were under lockdown and weren’t very much resourced.”
He, however, revealed that, foreigners are very likely to repatriate their monies to their home countries as a security measure in the case of social unrest in the country in the aftermath of elections, which has a trickledown effect on the financial stability of the economy.
“Uncertainty drives the movement of money outside the country and this happens on the part of foreigners,” he said.
The GUTA President indicated that during the run-up to elections, some sections of traders who deal in politically-related merchandise enjoy some advantage due to high demand.
“During elections, government spending goes high and this affects election related products. For instance, politicians will buy street lights for those in the villages which helps businesses in that sector by shoring up their sales,” he indicated.