Trade Briefs

Africa’s trading relationship with Japan

Africa’s trading relationship with Japan

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26 Apr 2017

Author(s): Ron Sandrey

Over the last few years, the focus of African trade and trading relationships has focused on several countries and regions. Firstly, we have the European Union (EU) with the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) and the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU. Then we have had the United States of America (USA), and the recent uncertainty over the future of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) with the US, and then the on-going but perhaps diminishing love affair with the so-called BRIC economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China. Finally, there is currently an intense policy focus on the on-going process of intra-African integration.

Against this background, trade with Japan has carried on largely unnoticed. The objective for this trade brief is to report on this trading relationship over the years since 2001 and highlight that although it is not a headline-seeking relationship it is a valuable one to both parties. We source the data from the International Trade Centre (ITC), and other than the opening graph and two tables we use the Japanese data from the ITC rather than African data. It is important to have a consistent source, and African trade data suffers from many problems.

Using Africa trade data we find that African imports from Japan are moving steadily downward from the peak of 4.3% in 2001 to the latest 2.0%. For African exports to Japan there is variation, but the opening share of 2.5% is the same as that reported during 2015. Until 2013 imports from Japan had been above exports to Japan, but over the last four years the trade balance has been relatively close.


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