In preparation for the coming into force of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact and the economic partnership agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU), the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) will enhance the support it offers to companies entering overseas markets, sources revealed yesterday. To assist companies in using highly capable foreign personnel, METI will bring together the various authorities currently divided by industry and launch by year-end a unified platform that matches human resources with companies. In addition, it will select specialists living overseas and enable companies to receive advice from them through business talks. This platform will be announced as a FY2018 support measure at the experts’ panel to be held today.
The support measure is centered on expanding the “New Consortium to Enhance Exports,” a private-public collaborative framework to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) entering overseas markets. Human resources information spanning ministries overseeing such fields as agriculture and manufacturing will be consolidated into a single platform on highly capable foreign human resources spearheaded by the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), and this will make it easier for companies to obtain personnel information. METI will also enhance support overseas by selecting specialists stationed abroad, including former trading company employees.
Moreover, about 340 local SMEs will be added to the group of about 1,500 companies already targeted for prioritized support. A top METI official says, “We want the economic growth gained from entering overseas markets to spread to local economies as well.” The support measure aims to expand exports of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries products. Leveraging the worldwide Japanese cuisine fad and the upcoming enforcement of the TPP and the Japan-EU EPA, the government has set the goal of converting farming into “aggressive agriculture.”
Japan is steadily developing its own free trade framework: the TPP-11 was officially agreed upon in March and is expected to come into force in early 2019 and the Japan-EU EPA is also scheduled to go into force next year. By supporting the entry of SMEs into overseas markets and maximizing the outcomes of the two agreements, Japan also hopes to contain the U.S., which is increasingly taking protectionist measures, including placing import restrictions on steel and aluminum.