The EU-Japan Centre is to continuously evolve, expand its activities and calibrate its mission to the present needs of the EU and Japan industrial and business communities.
With this in mind, we have defined our new strategic priorities, the main one being the reinforced support for SMEs, with a particular focus on internationalization aspects. The mutual importance of the issue is obvious. The SMEs represent the backbone of EU and Japanese economies. The share of SMEs in the economy is more than 99% for both EU and Japan with a fairly similar percentage in terms of employment creation (70-80%). Both in EU and Japan the SMEs are being seen as engines for economic growth, particularly through internationalization into outside strategic markets. It is about intercepting new drivers for growth badly needed by the stagnant economies of EU and Japan.
All activities are open to SMEs. However some of them have been designed more specifically or exclusively to meet SMEs’ needs and expectations:
The service, which is offered free of charge, acts as a landing pad for EU-based SMEs planning on entering into or expanding within Japan. The initiative encompasses a full range of essential support measures for businesses:
- a “hot desk” in Tokyo on the Centre’s premises that includes an internet connection and telephone (*) for up to 1 month (a maximum of 2 beneficiaries per time slot);
- full access to meeting and seminar facilities within the Centre’s premises;
- a help desk for all information inquiries on business in Japan;
- assistance with using the Enterprise Europe Network service while in Japan.
With over 600 partner organisations located in 52 countries, the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) is the largest network of contact points providing information and support for SMEs in the fields of international business cooperation, innovation, knowledge and technology transfer and cooperation in EU programmes. The Network is funded by the European Commission and its services are free of charge.
As Japan representative of the Network, the EU-Japan Centre provides you with free EEN services in cooperation with EU EEN partnering organisations.
This service intends to support the market access of European companies (particularly SMEs) to Japan, through the provision of free information and services in synergy with other business support services already offered (business information helpdesk, training, logistics support). These support measures take the form of first-line information and advice on tax and public procurement (PP) and related issues, plus related training, materials and online resources.
The core objective of this service is to support European SMEs with business plans/feasibility studies for market entry in Japan.
This service is expected to have the following general impact:
- Open new doors in Japan – develop and expand the spectrum of business opportunities in Japan for EU SMEs;
- Help EU SMES identify a winning market entry approach and offer practical tools and route to strategy implementation
“Keys To Japan” assists EU SMEs with the definition and production of detailed, real-world and high quality market entry strategies in Japan. To do so, the KTJ service leverages the expertise of services such as the Japan Market Entry Competition (http://www.jmec.gr.jp) or the European Satellite Navigation Competition (http://www.galileo-masters.eu) and co-sponsors the draft of generic and detailed market entry/expansion plans for a selected number of EU SMEs with the potential for a long-term commitment and interest to approaching the Japanese market.
In accordance with the project of the Directorate-General for Enterprise & Industry of the European Commission to develop a global platform providing EU businesses with relevant information about business with third countries, the EU-Japan Centre runs a website (together with webinars, e-learning sessions, Experts’ publications) dedicated to providing practical business information on Japan to EU companies.
On 17 July 2018, the European Union and Japan signed an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), the biggest trade agreement ever negotiated by the EU that will create an open trade zone covering over 600 million people. The agreement entered into force on Friday, 1 February 2019.
The EPA contains "a number of provisions that will simplify trade and investment procedures, reduce export and investment related costs and will therefore enable more small firms to do business in both markets. Among the expected benefits are increased transparency, less burdensome technical rules, compliance requirements, customs procedures and rules of origin, enhanced protection of intellectual property rights and geographical indications, better access to procurement tender procedures, as well as a special chapter to enable SMEs to maximise the benefits from the EPA". (Source: Proposal for a COUNCIL DECISION on the conclusion of the Economic Partnership Agreement between the European Union and Japan - COM(2018) 192 final)
To raise awareness of the opportunities this agreement offers and to help EU SMEs take advantage of them, the EU-Japan Centre has launched an EPA Helpdesk to support and guide EU SMEs in their search for relevant information. The "EPA Helpdesk" answers EPA-related queries, organises webinars and publishes factsheets and/or practical guides covering specific topics or sectors.