(Mainichi: November 13, 2015 – p. 6)
By Mikako Yokoyama
The outline of economic measures to take advantage of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement was announced on Nov. 12. Its main feature is the creation of consortia involving the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), chambers of commerce and industry, regional banks, and so forth to assist overseas ventures by middle-ranking companies and small and mid-size enterprises. The government will include this measure in its policy outline to be released on Nov. 25. Budget allocations will also be included in the FY2015 supplementary budget to be compiled by the end of this year, in order to improve business competitiveness before the TPP accord takes effect.
Local governments will also join these new consortia. A system for companies to work with experts — such as former officials of trading firms and manufacturers — to find solutions to problems in overseas ventures is being contemplated. Several hundred experts will be assigned to JETRO offices nationwide.
To enhance technical value added, assistance in know-how pertaining to international product standardization and guidance in the utilization of intellectual property, such as in terms of branding, will also be provided.
A comprehensive specialized support system for product development difficult for individual companies to undertake will also be instituted to broker collaboration with other companies, introduce businesses to regional banks, and provide other forms of support.
In addition, cooperation among agriculture, commerce, and industry will be promoted to strengthen overseas marketing of agricultural products, exports of which are expected to expand with the abolition of tariff. Simplification of yen loan procedures will also be implemented to help Japanese companies partake in the infrastructure demand in countries where the government procurement market will be liberated, such as Vietnam and Malaysia.
According to METI, middle-ranking companies and small and mid-size enterprises hiring less than 1,000 employees constitute over 99% of businesses and account for 87% of the work force in the manufacturing industries. It reckons that assistance for these businesses to benefit from the TPP is indispensable for Japan to enhance its competitiveness through TPP.