UKTI October 2011

Revitalising UK-Japan trade and spreading the message

Twenty Japanese firms are among the first to benefit from the joint campaign launched this summer by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and British Airways (BA) to reinvigorate business between Japan and the UK, in the wake of the tragedies of 11 March.

Winners of the Reassure and Rebuild campaign were each given one round-trip business class ticket to London by BA and two nights in a London hotel, courtesy of Hilton Worldwide.

“Our message is unified: Japan is back in business”, said Ambassador David Warren during the awards ceremony at the British Embassy Tokyo on 7 September. “We all share a desire to help rebuild Japan’s economy by reassuring people back home that Japanese business has bounced back since March. The British Embassy has been working hard to ensure UK businesses understand this message”, he added.

More than 130 firms applied for the awards, each being required to submit a brief business proposal outlining how a visit to Britain would help re-energise bilateral trade and investment links and how they would make the most of face-to-face meetings with firms in the UK to emphasise the opportunities that exist for partnering with Japan.

Japan—the third-largest market in the world—is the UK’s 14th-largest market for goods exports and the ninth largest for services. The key message that the firms are being asked to deliver to their counterparts in Britain is that business has effectively returned to how it was before the disasters of 11 March, with only a very small part of the country still feeling the effects of the earthquake, tsunami and problems at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

UKTI’s message to UK companies is that there are opportunities across all sectors in Japan, including for new market entrants. Firms here are keen to trade and eager to source UK products and partnerships. Meanwhile, now is a good time to look at Japan because of favourable exchange rates, recovering retail sales and new opportunities in areas such as energy saving technologies, cloud computing and business contingency planning and training.

“We are extremely delighted by the response we have received to this initiative, as are UKTI”, said Jamie Cassidy, BA’s general manager for the Asia-Pacific region. “This is a very critical period for the Japanese economy and British Airways is keen to do what it can to contribute and stimulate the rebuilding process.

“We are confident that each of these worthy winners will play a pivotal role in facilitating the exchange of ideas between Japan and the UK and help strengthen business ties”.

The entrants were assessed by a panel of judges from UKTI, BA, Hilton and Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. which has had a long association with Britain and operates a major manufacturing plant in Sunderland (see page 42). The Juke has been produced at the plant since August 2010 and the first Leaf—the world’s first mass-produced electric car—is scheduled to roll off the lines there in 2013.

“As the first Japanese automaker to establish a manufacturing plant in the UK, Nissan is proud to call both Japan and the UK ‘home’ ”, said Simon Sproule, corporate vice-president of the firm’s Communications Division. “We are honoured to support the Reassure and Rebuild campaign and celebrate the achievements of the companies recognised today”.

It is hoped the winners of the Reassure and Rebuild campaign and British firms in Japan will serve as ambassadors to help spread the message that Japan is open for business.

Speaking before the awards ceremony, Mayumi Nakagome, director and joint owner of Sendai-based LyonLyon Ltd, vowed to use the opportunity to invigorate business ties between the two nations.

“Thanks to support from the Reassure and Rebuild campaign, I will be able to have a series of face-to-face meetings with our existing, as well as potential, British business partners, and also to visit three trade fairs to identify new business clients during my visit to the UK”, Nakagome explained.