The Japanese government has urged African leaders to join forces together and work towards removing all trade barriers that stifles the continents growth.
Addressing African ministers of state at the opening ceremony of this year’s Ministerial meeting under the auspices of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan, Mr Taro Kono, said trade restriction in Africa could pose danger to the continent’s economic agenda.
He therefore urged African leaders to do everything within their power to allow for a smooth trade among member states.
He further noted that without free trade, it would be extremely difficult for Africa to achieve its economic transformation.
The conference, which took place in Tokyo, Japan, was attended by 53 African ministers of state.
The event was a build up to next years TICAD VII scheduled for August 28 to 30th in Yokohama city in Japan.
Mr Kono said one of Japan’s major goal was to connect Africa and Asia under its ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy.’
“To ensure we do just that, we must maintain a free and open maritime order and freedom of navigation based on rule of law” he said.
Regarding trade, Mr Kono said Japan’s foreign direct investment in Africa had increased by more than five times since 2000, saying that the rise in trade volume was a reflection of the Japanese government’s commitment to assisting Africa.
Additionally, he mentioned that Japanese companies had established more than 800 companies in Africa and hinted of the number being increased as many Japanese businesses were ready to move to Africa.
Mr Kono, however, expressed concern about the rise in debt by African governments and stressed the need for sound debt management.
“I would like to reiterate the importance of sound debt management in order to enable sustainable development in Africa with Africa ownership,” he said.
In a speech read on his behalf, the African Union (AU) Chairman, President Paul Kagame, efforts were being put in place to eliminate all trade barriers among member states.
He mentioned the signing of the Africa continent free trade as one of the achievements so far, adding that progress was being made in the area of economic transformation.
Mr Kagame, therefore, commended the Japanese government for the various support and assistance to Africa.