As the spread of the Coronavirus tumbles stocks and disrupts global markets, traders in Ghana say they foresee a severe shortage of goods. 

With Ghana’s economy largely dependent on imports, the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) fears the lockdown of major economies like China and Italy due to the Coronavirus stands the chance of disrupting Ghana’s trading community. 

President of GUTA, Dr Joseph Obeng said “People can’t ply those destinations physically again, especially those of us who go and shop in the open market and all that. It means that they can’t go and bring goods so it means that there is going to be a shortage of those goods that they bring.”   

He added, “Imports have been delayed because they also have challenges so it means that if the virus is not contained by June-July, there will be severe shortage which will subsequently impact on prices,” he stated.

Some importers who frequent China for business are concerned over the possible hike in goods following the Coronavirus outbreak across major economies.

These importers say the Coronavirus poses a huge threat to their business. Patrick Osei-Brogya is an importer, he fears the outbreak could impact prices on the retail space.

Mr Osei-Brogya said, “Most importers are heavily dependent on China when it comes to their goods. With about 17 business centres on lockdown, there will be a strain on the inflow of goods. What this means is that supply will wane as demand increases. We may have no option but to soar prices to cushion us against the losses we may accrue.”

Mwani Buhari who deals in Electricals at the Central Business District of Accra says she’s had to cancel her yearly trip to China due to the Coronavirus. With a limited stock of electrical wares, she is concerned about the impact of the virus on her business.

According to her, “not travelling to China has impacted business gravely as I can no longer assess my wares before exporting to Ghana – if I were to be in China.”

In Ghana, the Ministry of Health has issued a public alert on the virus that is airborne and transmitted from humans to humans. This alert includes surveillance and quarantine centres across the country’s borders and airports being beefed up.

Chinese provinces neighbouring Hubei, which is the epicentre of the coronavirus epidemic, are on shutdown.

An emergency sensitization program has been held for Ghanaian traders and importers who often ply their trade in China. President of Ghana Union of Traders Association GUTA, Dr Joseph Obeng told Joy Business the Union is taking critical measures to protect traders.

“We have been discussing this disturbing issue. This is very serious because it also an airborne disease. When it comes to the entry points – Airports and so on, we call on the Health Ministry to be extra alert. We are taking precautions and orienting traders and exporters on safety measures. Travels to China will be cancelled upon advice from the Health Ministry,” he stated.

So far, Ghana’s mission in China has advised Ghanaians planning to travel to the Asian country to consider postponing their trips.

Ghana’s Deputy Ambassador to China, Dr Charles Dwamena said if the trip is an emergency one, then travellers should take the necessary precautions to protect themselves.

Dr Dwamena said about 300 Ghanaians are living in the city of Wuhan where the virus was first found but no Ghanaian has been reported to have contracted the ailment.

Ghana’s Health Ministry says it has enhanced surveillance at all entry points in Ghana, especially Kotoka International Airport. To protect oneself from the virus, the Ministry has advised, among others, regular washing of hands with soap and water and hand rubbing with alcohol where available.

“If contact with a sick person or potentially infected surfaces or objects occur, those involved must not touch their eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands,” the Ministry said.