- …promises to deepen Ghana-Japan economic relations
Trade, economic and investment relations between Ghana and Japan are set to deepen, following the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) office’s official opening in Accra.
The move, which was derailed by the advent of COVID-19, comes on the back of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in August 2019 following Ghana’s participation at the 7th edition of the Tokyo International Conference of African Development (TICAD7).
Speaking at a ceremony to mark the milestone, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo described the development as a testament to the mutually beneficial relationship both countries have enjoyed, which predates independence.
President Akufo-Addo expressed delight at the office’s opening, owing to JETRO’s position as the principal public agency of Japan for the promotion – which he said will help facilitate business linkages and directly address concerns of Ghanaian and Japanese companies.
“The JETRO Accra office’s establishment, which has been duly staffed and resourced, is an important development toward deepening our economic cooperation with Japan. It provides a permanent administrative mechanism to strengthen bilateral dialogue to promote trade, investment and private sector development programmes between Japan and Ghana.
“With JETRO fully in place, the time has come for closer cooperation between both countries to undertake joint initiates and complement the work government is already undertaking,” he said.
The president added that JETRO’s operations will provide a much-needed outlet for Made-in-Ghana goods to reach a wider market, and called on the private sector to take advantage of these opportunities to drive the industrialisation agenda, as he pledged to work with other stakeholders to consistently enhance the regulatory regime.
On his part, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of JETRO, Nobuhiko Sasaki, signalled the interest of Japanese companies in extending their interactions with African countries. He added that Ghana is garnering a positive view in his home country.
While registering his concern about the unfavourable political and socio-economic events witnessed in a number of countries where JETRO is present, he was particularly keen to praise Ghana for its stability – which he said is driving economic growth.
“While the interest of Japanese companies in Africa is growing, it is also true that there are quite a few concerns about the challenging business environment… Under the leadership of President Akufo-Addo, Ghana has achieved high economic growth based on its political stability and is the most advanced democratic country in Africa. We are hoping it remains that way,” he remarked.
He added that the nation has the fifth-largest presence of Japanese-owned companies on the continent, with approximately 50 of such companies operating in the country. This, he said, has brought Ghana to the fore of attention in the Japanese business community, which he noted is taking a keen interest in the local startup space.
“I have no doubt that the importance of Ghana will increase even more, as an industrial and production hub of Japanese automobiles. Furthermore, Japanese business people have taken notice of the startups which are rapidly growing, and there are many companies back home looking to support social issues,” he said.
Mr. Sasaki added that through digital technology, Japanese companies have been able to significantly reduce the geographical distance between Japan and Africa; and this will characterise business interactions going forward.
Minister for Trade and Industry Alan Kyerematen said the office’s opening could not have come at a better time, as the nation emerges from negative effects of the pandemic. Expressing his expectations for bilateral relations following the JETRO-Accra office’s formal opening, he said: “We hope this will make Ghana the priority destination for Japanese business on the continent, and that JETRO will become our chief marketing agent for Ghanaian-made products.”
The event also saw a Memorandum of Cooperation signing between the Ministry of Trade and Industry and JETRO to promote and enhance economic relations between Ghana and Japan. It was graced by the Ambassador of Japan to Ghana, His Excellency, Tsutomu Himeno; Chief Executive Officer-Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), Yofi Grant; as well as a high-level delegation from Japan that joined virtually.
JETRO currently has 76 overseas offices and a presence in 55 countries. The Ghana office, its 9th in Africa, will serve Sierra Leone and Liberia as well. It seeks to strengthen business exchanges through trade and investment promotion, exhibitions and business delegations, and research and policy advocacy.