Guinea-Japan Business Forum in Tokyo

June, 2017

Taking the occasion of a visit to Japan by President Alpha Condé of the Republic of Guinea, JETRO held the Guinea-Japan Business Forum at its headquarters in Tokyo on June 20. President Condé and Gabriel Curtis, the CEO of the Private Investment Promotion Agency(APIP), made a passionate call for investment from Japanese companies through explanations on the investment environment and potential of the Guinean market during the forum, which was joined by more than 200 people. In the last session, business matching talks at a networking meeting were held for companies from both countries.

Abundant resources and development potential of Guinea

At the beginning of the forum, JETRO Chairman and CEO Hiroyuki Ishige stated in his greeting that Guinea, a country with abundant mineral resources such as bauxite and iron ore which are reserved under the Simandou mine, is now changing under the outstanding leadership of President Condé, and there is a widespread consensus around the world that the country has huge potential for economic development. And as the president doubles as the Chairperson of the African Union, he expressed his hope that President Condé’s visit to Japan would be a catalyst for forming tie-ups between African and Japanese companies. Following Chairman Ishige’s speech, Ambassador of Guinea to Japan Senkoun Sylla emphasized in his opening remarks that Guinea has much potential for growth in the fields of commerce, mining, energy, logistics and consumer goods because it has been facilitating trade and investment with the aim of improving the competitiveness of the private sector. He continued that his country eagerly hopes to further strengthen its relationship with Japanese companies, particularly in the fields of commerce, information and communications technology and human resource development.

In his greeting, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Shunsuke Takei happily reported that the project for reconstruction of the Kaaka Bridge on Guinean National Route 1, which had been conducted by the Japanese government, was completely finished on June 15, and he made clear his belief that this forum will further deepen the bond of friendship and cooperation between the two countries. Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Masaki Ogushi expressed his ministry’s hope to facilitate trade and investment between Africa and Japan in a combined public-private effort through the “Africa-Japan Public-Private Economic Forum,” the launch of which was declared at the Sixth TICAD in 2016. In his greeting, Tetsuro Yano, the President of the Association of African Economy and Development (AFRECO), stated that he had long waited for an event the like the Guinea-Japan Business Forum.

Following the guest speeches, State Minister for Private Investment and Public-Private Partnership Ibrahima Kassory Fofana began his greeting with the introduction of President Condé, and promoted the attractiveness of Guinea in terms of political and macro-economic stability, and the improvement of its legal system including through preferential treatment for private investment. Furthermore, he stressed the potential of the country as a regional hub which can effectively reach a consumer market of 330 million people across Guinea and its six neighboring countries. After the introduction by State Minister Fofana, the keynote speech was delivered by President Condé. He proudly presented on how his country has been steadily growing through the international rescue plans such as the Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) Initiative endorsed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) since the country’s democratic election in 2010. He also touched on the potential of Africa as a whole from his standpoint as the Chairperson of the African Union, stating that an abundant young workforce is enabling Africa to become the world’s factory and that the continent will be home to a gigantic market of two billion people by 2050. While acknowledging that issues still remain, such as political turmoil in Libya, immigration trouble, terror attacks and environmental pollution, he made a passionate call to Japanese companies to invest in Africa in the midst of its deepening ties with Japan.

In the presentation session, Advisor Ousmane Sankhon of the Embassy of Guinea in Japan took the podium. He was bestowed the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays by the Japanese government in April 2017 in recognition of decades-worth of distinguished efforts such as involvement into the establishment of the embassy in 1972 and his long-term work serving as a bridge between his country and Japan. Speaking based on his experience and knowledge, he encouraged Japanese companies to move boldly forward in investing in Guinea, while also emphasizing that this effort should not be merely a passive one. Guinea and the rest of Africa must also contribute to forging a win-win relationship with Japan by understanding principles important to the Japanese mentality such as those of “give-and-take relationships” and “responsibility and empathy.” Director-General Gabriel Curtis of the Private Investment Promotion Agency (APIP) gave a presentation along with pictures to illustrate the “one-stop shop” services provided by the APIP, which is tasked with promotion of private investment, as well as the improved legal system and simplified company registration procedures which can be completed within 72 hours. In addition to allowing 100% investment by foreign companies, he also explained incentives available in Guinea such as tax relief on corporate income and customs for up to 10 years.

The last speaker, General Manager Kenji Suzuki of the Africa Business Development Department of the Africa Division at Toyota Tsusho Corporation, made a presentation about business in Guinea from the Japanese side. He elaborated on his company’s business of importing and distributing automobiles, which it started as the distributor of the CFAO group in 2004, and pharmaceuticals, which it started for Laborex Guinee in 1986. Furthermore, during the Ebola outbreak his company, which focuses on social contribution in Guinea, quickly delivered the medicine Favipiravir (commonly known as Abigan) to Guinea via another distributor. He expressed his hope on behalf of his company that it will continue to contribute to Guinea in both aspects of economic and social development.

Lively networking meeting

At the venue an exhibition area was prepared to showcase Guinea’s principal products including shea butter and herbal teas, which drew many Japanese companies. The B-to-B networking meeting set as the last session was joined by 29 Guinean companies active in the seven categories of construction, mining, energy, agriculture, fishery, trade, logistics and financial services, and it was very lively with a long queue of Japanese business people eager to have business talks with them.

Greeting by Chairman and CEO Ishige

Keynote speech by President Condé

Presentation by Mr. Sankhon

Audience of more than 200 people

B-to-B meeting

Outline of the forum

Date and time 9:30 - 13:00, June 20 (Tue), 2017
Venue Tokyo Headquarters of JETRO, 5th floor, Exhibition Hall
Organizers Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO)
Embassy of the Republic of Guinea in Japan
Private Investment Promotion Agency (APIP)
9:30  Opening remarks
Mr. Hiroyuki Ishige, Chairman & CEO, JETRO
H.E. Mr. Senkoun Sylla, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Guinea to Japan
9:40  Guest speech
Mr. Shunsuke Takei, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs
Mr. Masaki Ogushi, Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry
Mr. Tetsuro Yano, President of AFRECO (Association of African Economy and Development)
9:55  Introducing the President of Guinea
Dr. Ibrahima Kassory Fofana,
State Minister for Private Investment and Public-Private Partnership
10:05 Keynote address
Prof. Alpha Condé, President of the Republic of Guinea
10:25  Presentation 1: “Attractiveness of Guinea and its Relationship with Japan”
Mr.Ousmane Sankhon, Advisor of the Embassy of the Republic of Guinea in Japan
10:45  Presentation 2: “Investment Climate and Opportunities in Guinea”
Mr.Gabriel Curtis, Director General, Private Investment Promotion Agency (APIP)
11:05  Presentation 3: “Toyota Tsusho Group’s Operations in Guinea”
Mr.Kenji Suzuki, General Manager, Africa Business Development Department, Africa Division, Toyota Tsusho Corporation
11:25 Q&A
11:45 B-to-B networking session
13:00 Closing