Lagos, Nigeria – November 6, 2023
By Grace Chigbu
– The Japanese government has expressed a positive outlook on Nigeria’s economy despite the challenging operating environment for businesses in the country. This optimism was voiced by the Managing Director and Trade Commissioner of the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO), Takashi Oku, during the opening ceremony of the 2023 Lagos International Trade Fair.
Mr. Oku emphasized Japan’s belief that Nigeria’s economic situation will improve, urging the administration led by Bola Tinubu to craft economic policies that will foster growth and development. As a testament to this confidence, the number of Japanese companies participating in this year’s trade fair increased from 19 to 33, underscoring Japan’s commitment to Nigeria’s economic potential.
“We have many investments here with approximately 51 Japanese companies operating in Nigeria. Both countries enjoy a robust trade relationship, and we are actively collaborating with Nigerian companies to introduce more products into the Nigerian market,” stated Mr. Oku.
However, he noted that the trade volume between Nigeria and Japan is not as substantial as desired, highlighting that Nigeria primarily exports natural gas and sesame to Japan. In contrast, exports from Nigeria to Japan increased from $759,256,000 in 2021 to $1,250,470, while imports from Japan to Nigeria grew from $287,331,000 in 2021 to $248,577,000 in 2022.
“The increase in the number of participants at this year’s trade fair compared to the previous year is a clear indication of our commitment to strengthening economic ties,” he emphasized.
The Japanese Ambassador to Nigeria, Matsunaga Kazuyoshi, echoed Mr. Oku’s sentiments and elaborated on the immense potential of Nigeria’s economy. He highlighted Nigeria’s substantial population, rich natural resources, growing human capital, and vibrant culture, all of which have attracted the international community’s attention more than ever.
Mr. Kazuyoshi stressed that trade and investment play a crucial role in achieving sustainable economic growth in Nigeria by catalyzing job creation, enhancing productivity, facilitating capital access, fostering learning and innovation, and encouraging technology spillovers. He underlined the significance of Lagos as the gateway to attracting foreign investment into Nigeria, and the 2023 Lagos International Trade Fair as a prominent showcase of the momentum for growth through trade and investment.
“Lagos is the most vibrant commercial hub of Nigeria, and Nigeria itself is the most robust economic hub in Africa. The African continent is and will continue to be the hub of international trade and investment, and this Trade Fair exemplifies the strong ties between Lagos, Nigeria, and the international community,” Mr. Kazuyoshi declared.
He further explained Japan’s longstanding commitment to deepening its economic relationship with Nigeria, evident in the participation of 33 Japanese companies exhibiting their ‘Made in Japan’ products and technologies in the Japan Pavilion at the trade fair. This involvement underscores the growing attraction of Nigeria as a destination for Japanese businesses.
In closing, Mr. Kazuyoshi affirmed Japan’s willingness to collaborate with Nigeria to contribute to the country’s economic diversification and future growth. Japan’s presence at the 2023 Lagos International Trade Fair signifies a shared vision for economic prosperity and cooperation between the two nations.
The Japanese government’s optimistic stance on Nigeria’s economy is a testament to the country’s potential as an attractive destination for foreign investment and trade. As Nigeria strives to navigate its economic challenges, the Japanese government’s support and engagement serve as a welcome boost and a call to action for the Nigerian government to implement sound economic policies that will facilitate sustained growth and development. With the increasing number of Japanese companies participating in Nigeria’s trade events and the strong economic ties between the two nations, the future holds promise for a more prosperous and mutually beneficial partnership.