Egypt and Japan are expected to ink about Seven Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in three main sectors, which are in information and communications technology (ICT), infrastructure and finance, on the sidelines of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7), which will be held on August 28-30, Director General of Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), Takashi Tsunemi, said.
“We will sign MoU with the Cairo Chamber of Commerce (CCC) to establish stronger relations with the Egyptian companies. Japanese companies plan to form strong networks with Egyptian companies,” Tsunemi mentioned.
Daily News Egypt interviewed Tsunemi to learn more about JETRO’s events and activities on sidelines of TICAD7, updates of the Japanese organization in the Egyptian market and its plans to boost the cooperation with Africa, transcript of which is below, lightly edited for clarity,
What are the main activities that JETRO will organise on sidelines of TICAD7?
We will organise a side event entitled ‘Japan Africa Business Forum’ on 29 August. We are expecting President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to deliver the opening remarks of the forum as the chairperson of the African Union (AU).
The forum will be attended by numerous African business community leaders. We receive many inquiries from Japanese companies on how to start a business in Africa. We note that the recent period witnessed the strengthening of Japanese businesses in Africa.
What is the focal sector of the newly established Japanese companies in Africa?
I think that ICT is a key sector for Japanese companies in Africa. Numbers of people are using the mobile phones are remarkably increasing, so the activities related to this sector including the mobile phone manufacturing and applications of online services became very attractive for the Japanese firms.
Japanese companies are expected to announce new businesses in the African region. Some Japanese companies aim to collaborate with Egyptian partners to inject capital in Africa. I think that there is a new passion of Japanese businesses toward Africa.
Over the TICAD7, we will discuss with the Japanese companies and their Egyptian counterparts how to boost the cooperation with the African partners as the main goal of Japan Africa Business Forum.
Are there any other events that will be organised on the sidelines of TICAD7?
Yes, we will host a business expo, where 160 Japanese companies will exhibit their products in various sectors including food industries, infrastructure, environmental products, human resources development, medical fields and others. The expo would allow Japanese companies to showcase their advanced technology in various sectors.
The Egyptian President will be accompanied by a delegate of about 50 Egyptian businesspersons; how did they organise their schedule in coordination with JETRO?
We are now arranging business-to-business meetings (B2B) for the 50 Egyptian business people with Japanese counterparts. I think it will be a good chance for them to know each other closely that is key for doing new businesses.
Can you name some of the Japanese companies that will hold B2B meeting with their Egyptian counterparts?
There are many considerable trading companies like Mitsubishi Corporation, Toyota Tsusho Corporation, Yamaha Motor Company Limited, in addition to many of the Japanese manufacturers. Nissan Motor Co, Ltd, will be in the exhibition too.
Will there be any meetings that the Egyptian ministers will attend in TICAD7?
We are expecting some meetings with the Egyptian ministers that are participating in TICAD7, yet there is nothing confirmed to be announced now. There was intensive preparation from the Egyptian government and the Japanese side for the TICAD7.
[Egypt’s Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, Sahar Nasr, met with Tsunemi as well as the Japanese ambassador Masaki Noke; Chief Representative of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Yoshifumi Omura; and representatives of about 25 Japanese companies, to discuss preparations for TICAD7 at end of July 2019, according to past report of DNE.
Nasr met with the Japanese ambassador twice in May and July. During the recent meeting, both parties discussed the Japanese companies’ expansions in the Egyptian market in light of the Egyptian government’s improvements to the business climate, added the report.]
In regards to the Egyptian market, can you reveal if any Japanese companies are planning to inject new investments in Egypt?
About 50 Japanese companies already have businesses in Egypt. Sysmex Corporation is the only Japanese company that entered the Egyptian market recently. Sysmex Corporation established its first Egyptian affiliate last year and their business is to sell inspection services in terms of the medical sector.
How many Japanese companies plan to enter the Egyptian market in the near term?
Three or four Japanese companies aim to establish a new business in Egypt, yet I can’t reveal the companies’ names for confidentiality.
[Japanese companies are investing about $880m in Egypt, according to the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation data, adding that Japanese FDIs increased by 74.3% at end of the fiscal year (FY) 2017/18 to reach $162.1m, compared to $93m in FY 2016/17.]
How will TICAD 7 contribute to African development?
I think that there is a mutual interest from the Japanese companies and their Egyptian counterparts to invest and trade with Africa. TICAD7 will include very important sessions to pave the way for new partnerships between Japan and Egypt in Africa.
Will the Egyptian companies announce new partnerships agreements with the Japanese counterparts over the TICAD7?
Many MoUs will be signed between Japan and Egypt on the sidelines of TICAD7. From 6 to 7 MoUs are expected to be signed in the sectors of ICT, infrastructure and finance. We will sign a MoU with the Cairo Chamber of Commerce (CCC) as we would like to have stronger relations due to its large numbers of members. Japanese companies aim to make great networks with Egyptian companies.
JETRO Cairo was first established in 1955 to promote trade between Japan and the Middle East & North African countries. JETRO Cairo is in charge of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Libya and Sudan.