By Joseph INOKOTONG
Japan has applauded Nigeria’s effort in improving the business environment in the country and lauds the country’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) which it described as the key to the revival of the country’s economy.
The country’s Parliamentary Vice Chairman for Foreign Affairs, Takei Shunsuke, who led a 32-man Joint Trade and Investment Mission to Nigeria, said in Abuja on Thursday that Japan is optimistic that economic relations between the two countries will be promoted by such initiatives by Nigerian government.
“We will like to praise Nigeria’s effort in improving the business environment by adopting the economic recovery and growth plan in March. I expect economic relations between our countries will be promoted by such Nigerian government efforts”, he said.
The Vice Minister said government’s determination in setting the Nigeria on a part of recovery and sustainable growth is one of the reasons Japanese companies have indicated strong interest in Nigeria. He therefore encouraged full implementation of the ERGP as it is key to the revival of the Nigerian economy.
The trade delegation had 12 private companies including trading houses, manufacturing, banks, insurance and relevant companies from all development sectors in Japan.
A statement signed Akpandem James, Media Adviser to the Minister quoted
Mr. Shunsuke as saying the Japanese trade delegation insisted on visiting Nigeria because Japanese companies strongly want to do business in Nigeria.
“According to a recent research on Japanese companies in Africa, they expressed positive thoughts on the considerable size of the Nigerian Market and the potential of Nigeria’s future economic growth”, he explained.
He emphasized development of key infrastructure particularly in the area of power and transportation which he said are crucial for economic investment and promotion. “We will like to strengthen our co-operation linking economic growth to such development and contribute to Nigeria’s sustainable economic and social development”.
In this regard, Japan offered to send a research mission for the recovery of the deteriorating power station in Apapa, Lagos because of its crucial importance of providing electricity to the major economic hub in Lagos. It also decided to provide $53 million as humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons and refugees in the Lake Chad region, including the Nigeria’s North East region.
The Head of the Private Sector Delegation, who is also the CEO for Europe, Middle East and Africa of Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Limited, Mr Masahiro Kuwahara, spoke in the same vein and said Nigeria provides the largest market for Japanese businesses in Africa and remains Japan’s largest business partner in the continent in the oil and gas sector.
Budget and National Planning Minister, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma who received the delegation in his office in Abuja told the delegation that the ERGP outlines measures that will improve Nigeria’s global competitiveness and make it the pre-eminent destination for investors and businessmen wishing to do business with Africa.
He explained that Nigeria is an attractive place for investors interested in investing in the Sub-Saharan Africa because it is geographically well situated for inter-regional trade connections within the sub-region and the rest of the world.
The Minister said Nigeria has abundant human and natural resources to support investment and industry as well as a huge market to absorb products and services.
To facilitate ease of doing business in the country, Senator Udoma said government has embarked on a number of policy realignments and has set up the Presidential Ease of Doing Business Council (PEBEC) to drive and monitor the process.
Government is also embarking on massive infrastructure development, particularly in the areas of power, rail and roads, aimed at reducing cost of doing business as well as tackling insecurity to protect lives and investment across the country.
Minister of State in the Ministry, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, said the list of private sector companies in the delegation shows how important the Japanese government has taken investment potentials inherent in Nigeria. She also appreciated the country’s generosity in assisting in humanitarian efforts in the North east and the Lake Chad region.