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The Basque Government positions the Basque industrial sector before institutions and business agents in Japan

2023 October 13

The Euskadi-Japan mission, led this week by President Iñigo Urkullu in Tokyo, includes, among other activities, an agenda of industrial and business content by the Department of Economic Development, Sustainability and Environment, headed by Minister Arantxa Tapia.

In a meeting held this morning with the media who had travelled to Japan, the Minister explained the importance of the Basque Country establishing itself in this market, given that the Basque Country is exporting below its potential and the opportunities presented by this market can be cemented both through exports and through local investments or collaboration agreements.

Japan is one of the priority countries in the Basque Government's internationalisation strategy for 2021-2024, as is the whole of Asia in the business internationalisation strategy. For this reason, in 2022 the Basque Trade and Investment Agency, part of the SPRI Group, opened two commercial delegations in Tokyo (Japan) and Seoul (Korea).

Figures of interest in the Basque Country-Japan trade and business relationship

Despite the fact that the trade balance is negative for the Basque Country, a total of 376 Basque companies regularly export to Japan, with aluminium and its products and automotive vehicle components accounting for more than 70% of exports, while imports are concentrated in iron and steel castings and automotive vehicles.

Established Basque company

The presence of Basque companies is still limited, with eight companies currently established* in Japan, with nine commercial and two production plants. The automotive sector stands out, followed by advanced manufacturing technologies and energy.

The sectors of interest for the Basque company are automotive, renewable energies, medical devices, machine tools and information technologies and telecommunications.

*there are companies that have more than one office

Relations with the Basque Country: collaboration agreements MIE and Fukushima

In recent years, an excellent business and institutional relationship has developed between the Basque Country and Japan, boosting economic relations even during the pandemic. As a result, the Basque Government declared 2023 as Euskadi-Japan Year.

Back in October 2018, the Minister of Economic Development, Sustainability and Environment, Arantxa Tapia, travelled to Japan with the aim of sharing the Basque Industry 4.0 strategy, as well as facilitating the opening of markets and cooperation channels for Basque companies.

During that trip, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed with the Prefecture of MIE, focusing on cooperation in the fields of Industry 4.0 and biotechnologies.

Likewise, as a result of the visit of a delegation from Fukushima Prefecture to the Basque Country in May 2019, the MOU signed by the President with the Governor of Fukushima was drafted .

This MOU, renewed this year, focussed on the promotion of renewable energies. This focus that has now been extended to cleantech, biotechnology and Industry 4.0.

Business mission in the fields of offshore energy hydrogen

More than thirty companies from the energy sector have travelled to Japan this week, with the focus on renewable energy business, in particular offshore and hydrogen, as well as on the decarbonisation of the automotive sector.

Activities on October 10, 11 and 12 took place at the geographic extremes of Japan, on the occasion of trade fairs in Kitakyushu (Fukuoka) and Koriyama (Fukushima).

The events, Global Offshore Wind Summit Japan 2023 (GOWS) and Fukushima Renewable Energy Industry Fair (REIF) have Basque stands and the presence of companies with interests in offshore wind and hydrogen.  Representatives from the following companies were present, Ditrel, Slingsintt, Irizar forge, Nautilus floating solutions, Saitec offshore technologies, Nervion naval offshore, Hine, Kimua, Sener, Iberdrola, Petronor, HWS, Erreka, Ampo, Idom, Ikerlan, Tecnalia, H2Site. All of them accompanied and supported by the Basque Energy Cluster and the Basque Trade and Investment Agency, part of the SPRI Group.

Institutional support of the Basque Government to the industrial fabric

The institutional delegation in the business area is made up of the Minister Arantxa Tapia, the Deputy Minister of Industry, Mikel Amundarain; the general director of SPRI, Aitor Urzelai; the CEO of Basque Trade and Investment, Ainhoa Ondarzabal and the commercial delegate of BTI Tokyo, Moe Kato.

Meetings were held with the Japan Wind Power Association (JWPA), the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), the Japan Hydrogen Association and the Japan Wind Power Association. They also visited, together with a group of Basque companies, Denso, a leading manufacturer of automotive components with numerous plants in Japan and abroad, and held a meeting with the vice-governor of Fukushima, Masaru KASHIMA, on the occasion of the opening of the REIF congress in which the Basque Country was a guest.

Business Leader Summit, conference for the industrial promotion of the Basque Country

On Monday, October 16, the downtown Tokyo Conrad Hotel hosted the Business Leader Summit, organised by the Basque Trade and Investment Agency of the SPRI Group to showcase the capabilities of the Basque industry in the energy and automotive sectors and share some successful collaborative practices between Basque and Japanese companies. The event will be chaired by the President, Iñigo Urkullu, and representatives from the Ministry of Economy and Industry of the Japanese Government will also be there. 

Promotion of gastronomic and txakoli products

Basque Week will also serve as a showcase for the promotion of food and beverage products, especially canned products and txakoli within the framework of the "Caprice" programme.

The CAPRICE program is an experience aimed at promoting certain quality products from the Cantabrian Sea (Antxoas (anchovies), Bonito (tuna), Piparra (peppers) and Txakoli (sparkling wine)), coming from the European tradition and culture, in other areas of the world. In this case we want to bring to the United States of America and Japan a selection of four products that can be consumed and enjoyed as appetisers.

During the next few days, tastings and samplings will be held at Toshima Centre for retail chain professionals. The food sector companies that travelled to Tokyo are:

Hijos de Jose Serrats, Bodega Gorka Izagirre, Berroja, Talai Berri, Rezabal Osinaga, Virgen de Lorea, Aitaren Lurretik, Hiruzta, Txakoli Zudugarai, Basaurresti-Basalore, Mokoroa, Bodegas Itsasmendi, Amesguren-Ameztoi, Txakoli Gaintza and Artomaña txakolina.

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Politicians attending the event