Caribbean business learn from Japanese firms

Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) President Luis Alberto Moreno, left, poses with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for photographers during his courtesy call at Abe’s official residence in Tokyo Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013. Moreno is here to attend the Japan-Latin America Business Forum.
AP Photo/Toru Yamanaka, Pool

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) says Caribbean and Latin American (LAC) companies have learned trade and investment opportunities and shared knowledge with “innovative” Japanese firms.

The IDB said more than 400 businesspeople and government officials from Japan, Latin America and the Caribbean gathered in Tokyo, Japan, on Nov. 7 and 8 for the Japan-LAC Business Forum, “where they discussed ways that both regions can boost growth by engaging in greater trade, investment and knowledge sharing.”

“Like Japan, we are engaged in the same quest – the search for sustainable high growth,” said IDB president Luis Alberto Moreno, in his opening remarks.

In order to grow, he said Japan needs to tap “dynamic, fast-growing markets,” adding that the region “offers a very young population with millions of eager consumers for the many innovative products that Japanese companies already manufacture in our region.”

Moreno said the region’s small and medium business enterprises (SMEs) “have much they can learn from leading Japanese firms, which are respected for their cutting edge technology and modern management techniques.”

Mitsuhiro Furusawa, the vice minister for International Affairs in Japan’s Ministry of Finance, also spoke at the Business Forum, which the IDB organized with the financial support of the Japan Trust Fund at the IDB, funded by the Ministry of Finance.

The Japan Bank for International Cooperation and the Japan External Trade Organization also contributed to the organization of the two-day event.

The IDB said the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Portia Simpson-Miller, Miriam Belchior, Brazil’s minister of Budget and Planning, and Paraguayan Finance Minister Germán Rojas also addressed the gathering, as did Takehiko Nakao, the president of the Asian Development Bank.

Panel discussions focused on investment opportunities for Japanese firms in the region’s infrastructure, energy and telecommunications, and on a special IDB program on “Emerging and Sustainable Cities,” aimed at helping mid-size urban areas develop rationally.

The IDB released a study, “Japan and Latin America and the Caribbean: Building a Sustainable Trans-Pacific Relationship,” which notes that Japan is “one of the most important sources of foreign direct investment (FDI) for the region.”

It also says that Japanese firms have introduced “cutting-edge technology, know-how and employment opportunities” for regional workers.

As part of the Forum, the IDB said about 100 representatives of companies and trade promotion organizations from Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) visited several Japanese firms, including a food distribution center and supermarket, “to showcase the strict standards required of international food suppliers.”

They also toured the Tokyo high-speed train station, and learned about earthquake-resistant building technologies for skyscrapers and innovative approaches to flood control.

Participants also visited SMEs in the business-friendly port city of Yokohama, the IDB said.

More from Around NYC