Article by JP-side Managing Director Yasuo Tanabe in Nikkei's "Personal Views Excellent Views" column

Japanese companies, don't forget about the EU

Yasuo Tanabe

, Managing Director

, EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation

It looks there are growing inward-looking tendencies in response to the pandemic of new Corona Virus. Japanese regional interest may lie in the US and Asia including China, even after international economic relations recovering active with Corona crisis under control. However, I would like to say, why don't we pay more attentions to EU as a business partner once again.

The United States are strengthening tendency of protectionism, although no one knows if President Trump will be re-elected in November. As for China in continuing trade war with the US, there is a move in Japan to lessen economic interdependence after Corona crisis.

According to trade statistics of Ministry of Finance, the share of EU in Japanese trade was 12% in 2019. That is slow growth, in view of numbers of members of EU increasing, compared with 10.5% in 2010. However, I believe, EU, who shares basic values and historical ties with us, will come arise, if we cannot expect much on the US and China.

With regard to frameworks between Japan and EU, the Economic Partnership Agreement(EPA) and the Strategic Partnership Agreement(SPA) were concluded in 2018. In 2019, there was also an agreement on cooperation on investment in sectors including digital infrastructures in the Indo-Pacific Ocean area.

The European Commission of EU has announced its Hydrogen Strategy toward decarbonization in this month. Hydrogen is attracting attentions as one of the next generation energy sources. Japan is doing research, too. So, there is a good potential for mutual cooperations. Nonetheless, it may not go smoothly on every issues, because EU's regulation hurdles tend to look higher regarding environment. We should not forget that the negotiations between EU and the UK, in Brexiting, about future relationship has stacked.

The Centre which I belong to, as a counterpart to the European Commission, is doing matchmakings between EU and Japanese companies. For instance, if we go to Africa for businesses, which is viewed promising, we could have tremendous benefit from partnering with EU, because many countries there have strong historical ties with Europe. Our business development would be different, if we know that there are reliable partners under the circumstances, where it is difficult to say the world is stable with conflicts between the US and China.

Original article: (JP)


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