By Stella Oke
The Embassy of Nigeria in Japan has said there is steady improvements in trade and economic relations between Nigeria and Japan prior to the outbreak of Covid-19.
Consequently, the number of Japanese companies in Nigeria has increased steadily in the last three years from 32 in 2017 to 43 in 2020.
The Charge de’ Affairs, Dr. Elias-Fatile, disclosed this in a statement made available to Diplomatic Correspondents in Abuja.
Elias-Fatile stated: “Despite current challenges, we still have good news and reasons to celebrate. After the successes of the events in 2019, we were recording steady improvements in trade and economic relations between both countries prior to the outbreak of Covid-19. The indicators include the increase in the number of Japanese companies in Nigeria from 32 in 2017 to 43 today.
“As soon as the situation begins to normalise, we shall take steps to pursue Nigerian-Japan relations with vigour and resolute determination, through robust engagements in economic and trade activities. We shall continue to bolster the networks of trade and economic activities between relevant actors and stakeholders from both countries. We shall initiate, encourage and support new ideas to expand the scope of trade and economic activities between both countries.”
Elias-Fatile said the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) acknowledged that presently, Japan is No 5 foreign investor in Nigeria, and also among the top 10 investors in services in Nigeria; among the top 10 investors in solid minerals, the No 5 investor in oil refining and No 5 investor in real estate.
Similarly, he stressed that Japan is among Nigeria’s top 20 import partners and Nigeria’s top 20 export partners.
He noted that another indicator was the increase in the volume of trade and economic activities between both countries. Recent statistics issued by competent government agencies from both countries attest to this positive trajectory.
Elias-Fatile revealed that since April 2019, there had been significant increase in the applications for business and tourism visas to Nigeria, especially after the maiden edition of the seminar for Japanese companies and captains of industry, the business networking session for Japanese businessmen and their Nigerian counterparts on the sidelines of the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VII) in Yokohama, as well as other trade-related activities organised by the Embassy last year.
According to him, “Although we have not been able to build substantially on the gains we garnered in 2019, the Embassy is undeterred. We believe that Nigeria and Japan will overcome Covid-19 and come out of this challenging period stronger. Therefore, we look forward with great optimism to actualise the initiatives we have in the pipeline and consolidate on the achievements we recorded in 2019/20.”
He said both countries had commenced preparations for the 9th Session of Nigeria-Japan Special Partnership Forum (NJSPF), scheduled for June in Tokyo, but was postponed.
The Charge de’ Affairs explained that the NJSPF is a framework for regular consultations on matters of mutual interest between the two countries, adding that the forum was upgraded to the level of a bi-national cooperation at the 6th session held on 22nd and 23rd August, 2013, in Abuja.
Elias-Fatile stressed that the Japanese companies are engaged in different sectors of the economy, including power generation, transmission and distribution, agriculture, machinery, automobile, manufacturing, engineering, electronics, infrastructure, food and seasoning, medical and healthcare, among others, adding that some of them manufacture products locally in their own plants in Nigeria.