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Japan Table of Contents



Africa has been the least important world region for Japan's trade and investment. Japan had little historical experience with Africa and little interest in economic ties with the region, except for development of raw material supplies.

In 1990 Africa accounted for just over 1 percent of Japan's imports and for just over 1 percent of its exports. Japan's largest trading partner in Africa in 1990 was South Africa, which accounted for 30 percent of Japan's exports to Africa and 50 percent of Japan's imports from the region. Because of trading sanctions imposed on South Africa by the United States and other countries, Japan emerged as South Africa's largest trading partner during the 1980s. This position proved embarrassing to Japan and led it to downgrade some diplomatic and economic relations with the country. Despite the fact that South Africa remained Japan's largest trading partner in the region, both exports and imports in 1988 had declined by more than one-third from their value in 1980.

Africa was the location of only US$4.6 billion or 2.5 percent of Japanese foreign direct investment in 1988, of which most (US$3.6 billion) was in Liberia. As in Panama, this investment was mainly in the form of flag-of-convenience shipping. Japanese data showed virtually no direct investment in South Africa (US$1 million), and no new investment in this country during the 1980s.

Data as of January 1994