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04.07.2005 Business & Finance

Japanese org. to help find market for Ghana's shea butter


From Hilda Abban, GNA Special Correspondent, Tokyo, Japan.

Tokyo, July 4, GNA - The Joined Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) on Monday promised that it would do its best to conduct a market survey to facilitate the export of processed shea-butter into the country.

Mr Shinnichi Saito, Executive President of JETRO, who made the promise, said it was the desire of the organisation to promote African products this year, and that it had set up "African Kitchen Corners" in various Asian countries to promote processed products from Africa.

Mr Saito was speaking when Ghana's Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Alan Kyerematen called at his office as part of a six-day working visit to Japan, in connection with Ghana's national day celebration at the on-going World Expo 2005 in the Aichi Prefecture of Japan, under the theme: "Nature's Wisdom."

He said his organisation was geared towards promoting trade and investment, and in this regard, urged the Minister to encourage other processing companies in Ghana to avail themselves of the opportunities being offered by this exhibition, adding that the products of the Cocoa Processing Company were already being promoted in Japan.

Mr Saito said officials of the South African Division of the Organisation had already visited Tamale and northern parts of Ghana to acquaint themselves with shea butter production there, and reported back that it was vital to help raise the average income of the producers there.

He said the Officials, however, noted that the producers lacked the requisite infrastructure and processing equipment. He told the Minister that he would convey back to him, the results of the market survey. Touching on Ghana-Japan relations, Mr Saito said Ghana was very well known in Japan because of Dr Nugouchi, since the story of his work and stay in Ghana, was studied in elementary school.

He said Ghana was also popular to the Japanese because a local confectionary was producing chocolate for consumers from Ghana's cocoa. Mr Kyerematen, said there was the need to "open a new chapter" to move forward trade and industrial cooperation between Ghana and Japan, observing that the current trade figures did not reflect the level of bilateral cooperation.

"So we need to enhance and deepen trade and economic relations", he emphasised and expressed the hope that JETRO and other organisations could help facilitate this.

He said he was happy that JETRO was interested in Ghana's shea butter and pledged that the Government would give the necessary support to encourage intermediate processing of shea butter, stressing "once we are able to do intermediate processing, it will enhance the value of the butter".

Mr Kyerematen noted that the Ghana Government was focussing on agro-processing and manufacturing activities, and said the main thrust of its second term in office, was to fast track human resource and private sector development and good governance.

The Government, he said, was in this regard hoping to identify strategic sectors with export potentials, as well as ensure mass mobilization of communities in order to enhance their incomes. The Minister asked the management of JETRO to consider the establishment of a permanent office in Ghana.