Japanese Companies Seek Deals in Africa

From The Wall Street Journal

By Mari Iwata & Yuko Takeo

Japanese companies are looking to resource-rich Africa to help fuel the Asian nation’s economic recovery, with business leaders even courting state support in a bid to muscle China out of its pre-eminent position on the continent.

“Economic growth cannot be achieved by one country…for the global economy to grow, emerging countries, including those in Africa, will be indispensable as a driving force,” said Toshimitsu Motegi, Japan’s minister of economy, trade and industry. He spoke at the start of a Tokyo conference pairing politicians from across Africa with Japanese senior executives.

Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, is eager to source fresh deals for energy, iron ore and the rare-earth metals needed for its high-tech manufacturing sector amid signs that years of tepid growth are finally nearing a boil. On Thursday, the country reported that gross domestic product grew at an annualized pace of 3.5% in the first three months of the year, the firmest sign yet that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s efforts to stimulate the economy may be working.

With an aging population and a shrinking domestic market, Japan is eager to export its technologies to Africa’s swelling middle class. Japanese firms hope to export their expertise in building roads, railways and utilities, providing a competitive alternative to the Chinese state-owned companies that have helped the Asian giant become Africa’s dominant investor.

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