The Bureau for Internal Affairs (BIA), an anti-corruption organisation and a centre for information gathering on public concerns, says there is still a hidden trade war between Ghana and Ivory Coast resulting from a previous ban on inland rice importation by Ghana.

Ms Cynthia Essandoh, BIA Coordinator, said in a statement issued in Accra that the decision to ban inland importation of rice appears to have been taken by the Ghana's Trade Ministry without proper consultation with the relevant stakeholders.

Ghana's Trade Ministry, headed by Haruna Iddrisi, on October 14, 2013 directed that all importation of rice into the country must be done through the airport or by sea.

The policy, according to the Trade Ministry was "intended to provide a framework of administrative procedures through which the numerous unfair trade practices including evasion of import duties and other taxes, under-invoicing, infringement of trademarks, and smuggling shall be controlled."

The ban was subsequently lifted by the Trade Ministry, but BIA claims its investigation shows that it is still subtly being applied by Ghana.

BIA claims that the Ivorian government has also retaliated by banning import of cashew from that country into Ghana by road.

BIA says its investigation reveal that the inland ban of cashew importation and the initial restriction of cargo trucks by Ivory Coast authorities from entering their country from Ghana through their border were fuelled by Ghana’s Trade Ministry’s implicit ban on inland rice importation through the common border of the two countries.  

 BIA is therefore advocating the total lifting of the ban by the Trade Ministry to enhance the free trade relationship between Ivory Coast and Ghana.

The bureau says it fears the possibility of other neighbouring French-speaking countries adopting similar policies such as Ivory Coast's, that can go a long way to worsen the plight of traders in Ghana.

BIA claims the action of the Trade Ministry is denting the image of the Ghana government and has therefore called on the ministry to revise the policy amid the current economic challenges.

The statement called on President John Mahama as Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States to intervene in the uprising trade tension between the two countries.