Irish exporters urged to look towards Japan

By Business & Finance
14 November 2013

The chairman of the Irish Exporters Association’s Asia Trade Forum has encouraged Irish exporters to look towards opportunities in Japan.

“The Japanese market currently accounts for over €5bn in bilateral trade but offers significant opportunities for further growth particularly in sectors such as life sciences; construction; food and drink; and gaming,” said Hugh Kelly, chairman of the Irish Exporters Association’s Asia Trade Forum speaking yesterday at an event focusing on Ireland-Japan trade and investment.

“Ireland trades significantly less with Japan, on a per capita basis, than with Australia, another developed economy that is located about the same distance from the EU,” said Kelly.

“A recent EU report found that per capita, Japan consumes about €13.70 worth of Irish imports per year, However, Australians consume a significantly higher amount of Irish exports at €35.50 worth per capita. This indicates the importance of factors apart from distance, such as culture, language and business environment, in maximising trade and export opportunities.”

“The purpose of the IEA’s Asia Trade Forum is to address some of these issues by having experienced business people in companies such as FEXCO that have achieved significant progress in Japan speak to new and potential exporters and de-mystify the market entry process,” he said

According to the IMF’s World Economic Outlook, Japan’s economy is expected to grow by about 18pc between 2010 and 2020 while Japanese imports of both goods and services is anticipated to grow by 50pc between now and 2016.

Kelly spoke of the importance of on-going support for companies capable of exporting to Japan. “The share of Irish exports outside the EU that went to Japan fell from 10.8% in 2000 to 4.8% in 2010. In 2010, Japan was Ireland’s third-largest market for exports outside the EU, down from second largest in 2000. While Ireland’s exports outside the EU have grown on average 2.3% per year over the past 10 years, exports to Japan have fallen at an average annual rate of 5.8% in the same period.  We are losing ground in what has been traditional one of our stronger Asian export markets and this is what the Asia Trade Forum is seeking to address.”