Nigeria@ 60: Nigeria , Japan relations broaden

By John Okeke

As Nigeria is celebrating 60th anniversary, the Chargé d’Affaires, in Nigeria embassy in Japan , Tope Adeleye ELIAS-FATILE has said the year marked a significant point in Nigeria , Japan relations.

In a statement by the envoy said,”on behalf of the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I congratulate Nigerians in Japan on the 60th Independence Anniversary of our beloved country.

“This year also marks the 60th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Nigeria and Japan. For this reason, 2020 is a significant year to both countries. We are celebrating the Anniversaries at a challenging period globally occasioned by the devastating effects of Coronavirus Pandemic with adverse impact on economic and other activities across nations. As stated by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, recently, on Tuesday 22nd September, while addressing the 75th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, the pandemic has devastated the world economy and strained the capabilities of the health system of many countries. He called on all nations, including our host Country, Japan, to work together and confront the Pandemic through effective multilateral actions,” he said.

According to him, over the years, relations between Nigeria and Japan, the third largest economy in the world, have been largely economic and trade-driven.

He continued,”Underpinned by this understanding, in 2019, the Embassy designed and implemented a programme of activities to further strengthen economic and trade relations between both countries. At the beginning of this year, we actively engaged relevant agencies of government in Japan whose mandates are related to trade and economic activities. We also lined-up trade, economic and other events for the year; but we could not implement any of them. We commenced preparations for the Second Edition of the Annual Seminar for Japanese Companies and Captains of Industry on the economic and trade environment in Nigeria and strategic policies to attract foreign businesses into the Country. It was scheduled for 26th of March, 2020 and strategically planned to build on the successes recorded at the maiden edition of the Seminar in March, 2019 where over 200 Japanese Companies and Captains of Industries, Members of the DIET (National Assembly), host Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other top Japanese officials from government and the business sectors participated. We commenced preparations for a Trade Mission from Japan to Nigeria, which was scheduled for October. However, these and other trade and economic-related events scheduled for the year were postponed because of Covid-19. Both countries also commenced preparations for the 9th Session of Nigeria-Japan Special Partnership Forum (NJSPF) scheduled for June in Tokyo; but it was postponed. The NJSPF is a framework for regular consultations on matters of mutual interest between the two countries. 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. 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. The 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, and others. Some of them manufacture products locally in their own plants in Nigeria. Another indicator is 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.

“The Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) acknowledges that today, Japan is No 5 foreign investor in Nigeria. Japan is 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, Japan is among Nigeria’s top 20 import partners and Nigeria’s top 20 export partners. Japan is one of the 20 countries identified by the Commission as strategically important to Nigeria for investment promotion. Nigeria benefits through the exportation of different products to Japan, particularly, agricultural and petroleum products,” he said.

“The volume of importation of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from Nigeria to Japan has been on the increase. In the same vein, since April 2019, there has been significant increase in the applications for Business and Tourism Visas to Nigeria. 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, the Japanese business community developed renewed interest in Nigeria. The applications for Visas to Nigeria increased significantly afterwards. 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 4 recorded in 2019/20. 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. I urge all Nigerians residing in Japan to continue to serve as good ambassadors of our country and to deepen their partnership and collaboration with the Embassy in the task of boosting relations between Nigeria and Japan. The Embassy remains resolutely committed to this objective as we celebrate the 60th Anniversary of our Country’s Independence and 60 years of Nigeria-Japan relations,” he added.

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