Japan on Monday expressed optimism of an improved trade relation with Nigeria as Nigerian Government intensifies efforts at implementing the Economic and Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP).
The Trade Commissioner, Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO), Mr Taku Miyazaki, expressed the optimism in an interview with reporters in Lagos.
According to him, Nigeria’s economy is on the path of rebound due to stable oil price, more forex liquidity and government efforts at implementing ERGP.
Miyazaki noted that trade declined between both countries from 2015 to 2017 due to decreased natural gas import, lean harvest of sesame seeds in Nigeria and weak demand for some goods.
He said that Japan’s import from Nigeria from 2015 to 2017 was to the tune of $2,830.8 million, $849,568 million and $785, 204 million, respectively.
He said that Japan’s export to Nigeria from 2015 to 2017 stood at $358,588 million, $326,147 million and $321,165 million, respectively.
“There was a decline of 7.6 percent of import value from Nigeria mainly because of the decrease of natural gas import.
“Natural gas is still dominant with more than 80 percent of Japan’s import from Nigeria.
“Sesame seeds kept third despite 47 percent decrease in value and 43 percent in quantity, mainly due to the lean harvest in Nigeria.
“Aluminium refined from scraps surged by 46 percent in value, accounting for 14 percent of total import from Nigeria,” he said.
Miyazaki said that Japan’s export to Nigeria declined due to continuous weak demand in Nigeria, adding that export from Japan to Nigeria kept almost same level in spite of improved foreign exchange in the country.
“Hot-rolled steel sheets dropped by 49 percent and synthetic hairs by 43 percent in quantity, as not a few of Nigerian traders and consumers have shifted to items with lower prices, even some of which are substandard.
“Automobiles, once the biggest export item from Japan, still suffered from extremely weak demand coupled with incomplete implementation of Auto Policy,” he said.
The trade commissioner revealed that Nigeria’s lifting of ban on fish import from Japan in 2015 led to a surge of import of mackerel from Japan to Nigeria in the last two years.
“Japan’s export of mackerels surged in the last two years, especially in 2017, six times more than that of the previous year, accounting for nearly 56,000 metric tonnes,” Miyazaki said.
Miyazaki said that there was a need to improve the bilateral trade relationship of both countries, noting that Japan was the third largest economy in the world, while Nigeria was the largest economy in Africa.
“Improving trade between both countries would be mutually beneficial as Japan has been participating in transferring technology to local producers and will continue to assist Nigeria in its effort to diversify its economy.
“The presence of Japanese companies in Nigeria keeps increasing, and this shows the huge potential of Nigeria and the interest of Japanese companies to explore and forge strategic partnership with their Nigerian counterparts,” he said.
Miyazaki said that improved economic ties would create jobs, promote knowledge transfer, economic growth and improved global competitiveness.
Bilateral co-operation between Nigeria and Japan was established in 1964.
Japan has over the years promoted active co-operation with Nigeria in the educational and technical fields, rural electrification, agricultural projects, healthcare delivery and solar energy development.