A high level Japanese delegation to Liberia has raised hopes for the return of more Japanese companies here to expand investment in Liberia's private sector.
Speaking Thursday at the First Liberia-Japan Business and Investment Dialogue, Japanese Ambassador to Liberia Naoto Nikai, said this time, Japan is visiting Liberia to expand investment in the private sector.
He made the disclosure to an audience comprising government officials representing both Liberia and Japan, corporate and private corporations and business representatives at the C. Cecil Dennis Auditorium of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia.
Ambassador Nikai recalled the Japanese Government's pledge made at TICAD-V to assist in Africa's economic growth and development. He says Japan has focused its assistance to Liberia on infrastructural development as well as human resource development.
The partnership dialogue is a key outcome of the official visit of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to Japan in June 2013 during which she reached an agreement with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the side-line of the TICAD-V.
The agreement by both leaders to further strengthen Japanese-Liberian economic and political ties resulted to the ongoing dialogue here in Monrovia that the governments say will serve as a critical mechanism for mutual cooperation in key areas of trade and investment. Liberia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan says the Liberia-Japan partnership dialogue has a particular focus on business.
He says both countries have come to concretize their commitment to building a vibrant private sector in Liberia, and stressed that "We are here to discuss ... our bilateral trade with corporate representation and exchanges of ideas to foster trade and investment in Liberia."
Minister Ngafuan said further that the dialogue was in line with Liberia's Agenda for Transformation and Vision 2030, which according to him, recognizes the ... centrality of win-win private sector investment and partnerships to the achievement of Liberia's growth and development.
Earlier, Mitsubishi Corporation's Senior Vice President and Deputy Regional CEO, Sachio Kaneki, expressed the hope that more Japanese companies will come back to Liberia in the future, saying the economic relationship between Liberia and Japan is not new.
Liberia's Commerce Minister Axel M. Addy, expressed government's gratitude over the Japanese delegation's presence here, terming it a new chapter in Liberia-Japan partnership. He says the dialogue comes at a time the government of Liberia is striving to achieve its transformation to building middle-income country.
He however hoped that the representatives of Mitsubishi can share their experiences of working in Liberia and encourage future partnership between Liberia and the Japanese business community.
Meanwhile, Minister Addy said Liberia sources many vehicles, high-tech electrical and mechanical equipment from Japan, combining to a total value of $17m, making Japan Liberia's fifth import partner.
"The essence of these two days is that the magic will happen and you will leave here with a clear path with investment opportunities exploring new partnerships with the Liberian domestic - private sectors," Minister Addy said.
Besides Liberia's traditionally dominant export tree crops such as rubber and oil palm, Mr. Addy told the Japanese that new opportunities are emerging, including rice and cassava, among others.