An international conference hosted by Japan and the United Nations to help expand exports from Africa to Asia for the sustainable growth of African economies got under way Monday in Tokyo.

The two-day TICAD Asia-Africa Trade and Investment Conference has drawn representatives of governments, multilateral organizations and private companies from about 60 countries and economies in the two regions, according to the Foreign Ministry.

The conference began with an address by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

“The government’s role is indispensable for ensuring that trade and investment lead to economic growth and result in poverty reduction,” Koizumi said. Japan will support African countries’ efforts to establish an industrial foundation and increase their products’ competitiveness, Koizumi said.

During the meeting, the participants will discuss the present status of trade and investment between Asia and Africa as well as their potential and measures to enhance economic ties.

Koizumi proposed the conference in September 2003, when Japan hosted the third Tokyo International Conference on African Development.

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who also chairs the African Union, and Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki are among the African representatives scheduled to attend the event.

An exhibition of various African products will be featured on the sidelines of the conference.

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