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Latin American companies learn from innovative Japanese firms at Japan-LAC Business Forum in Tokyo

Trade Promotion officials and businesspeople from both regions gather to learn about trade and investment opportunities and share knowledge

TOKYO, Japan – More than 400 businesspeople and government officials from Japan and Latin America and the Caribbean gathered Nov 7-8 in Tokyo for the Japan-LAC Business Forum, where they discussed ways that both regions can boost growth by engaging in greater trade, investment and knowledge sharing.

“Like Japan, we are engaged in the same quest – the search for sustainable high growth,” said Inter-American Development Bank President Luis Alberto Moreno, in his opening remarks. “In order to grow, Japan needs to tap dynamic, fast-growing markets, and Latin America offers a very young population with millions of eager consumers for the many innovative products that Japanese companies already manufacture in our region.”

Latin America’s small and medium business enterprises (SMEs) have much they can learn from leading Japanese firms, which are respected for their cutting edge technology and modern management techniques, President Moreno added in his opening remarks.

Mitsuhiro Furusawa, the Vice Minister for International Affairs in Japan’s Ministry of Finance, also spoke at of the Business Forum, which the IDB organized with the financial support of the Japan Trust Fund at the IDB, funded by the Ministry of Finance. The Japan Bank for International Cooperation and the Japan External Trade Organization also contributed to the organization of the two-day event.

The Prime Minister of Jamaica, Portia Simpson-Miller, Miriam Belchior, Brazil’s Minister of Budget and Planning, and Paraguayan Finance Minister Germán Rojas also addressed the gathering, as did Takehiko Nakao, the President of the Asian Development Bank. Panel discussions focused on investment opportunities for Japanese firms in Latin American infrastructure, energy and telecommunications, and on a special IDB program on Emerging and Sustainable Cities aimed at helping mid-size urban areas develop rationally.

The IDB released a study, “Japan and Latin America and the Caribbean: Building a Sustainable Trans-Pacific Relationship.” The study notes that Japan is one of the most important sources of foreign direct investment (FDI) for the region, and that Japanese firms have introduced cutting-edge technology, know-how and employment opportunities for Latin American workers.

As part of the Forum, around 100 representatives of companies and trade promotion organizations from Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) visited several Japanese firms, including a food distribution center and supermarket, to showcase the strict standards required of international food suppliers.

They also toured the Tokyo high-speed train station, and learned about earthquake-resistant building technologies for skyscrapers and innovative approaches to flood control. Participants also visited SMEs in the business-friendly port city of Yokohama.

Also on Nov 7, the ADB and IDB held a joint meeting in Tokyo to strategize on ways the two Banks can cooperate on economic integration, private sector development, and resolving the issue of rising inequality in both regions. They also issued a joint report on inclusive economic growth.