MINSK - Belarus and Japan saw their mutual trade turnover expand by 16.7% year on year in 2018 to $49 million, Japan’s Charge d'Affaires to Belarus Hiroki Tokunaga told reporters on Feb 8.
“The trade turnover between Japan and Belarus stood at $42 million in 2017 and $49 million in 2018. Although the trade turnover is on the rise, the parties have not fully implemented the significant potential in economy and trade. Japan’s major exports to Belarus are equipment, car parts, tyres and rubber goods, optic fibre. Belarus’ basic exports to Japan are potash fertilizers, glass fibre, aluminium, and medical equipment”, said the diplomat.
Minsk and Tokyo have been discussing the prospects of implementing mutual projects. The parties held general discussions in the framework of the Belarus-Japan and Japan-Belarus economic forums in 2018. So far they parties are just discussing the general concept of a Belarus-Japan industrial smart zone in Mogilev Region.
“For a start, it is necessary that a Japanese hi-tech company should enter the Belarusian market and demonstrate goods results. It takes a single successful and memorable example of investment cooperation in order to attract big investors. It may be not necessarily be a large project,” said the diplomat. In his words, in order to stimulate investment inflow, Belarus needs to provide for an open and fair market. In the context of duty-free trade in the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), Belarus should create a more favourable investment environment than that in Russia and countries in Central Asia. By doing so, Belarus will draw the interest of Japanese companies to come and explore the Belarusian market, said Hiroki Tokunaga.
The diplomat admitted that Japanese businessmen are not quite familiar with Belarus’ market.
Hiroki Tokunaga referred to the IT industry as one of the most attractive areas for bilateral cooperation. “There are a lot of highly qualified specialists in Belarus, particularly in the IT industry. It opens great opportunities for our cooperation in the future,” said the diplomat.
Hiroki Tokunaga has invited Belarus to take part in World Expo 2025 in Osaka, which would be a good opportunity for Belarus to show its culture and industry “not only to Japan but also to Asia and the whole world.”