30 year association ends

WA’S lax approach to seeking export opportunities has been blamed for the Japanese Govern-ment’s decision to drop its external trade organisation after a thirty year association with Perth.

From 1 July, WA businesses wanting to deal with the Japanese external trade organisation directly will have to speak to the organisation’s Melbourne office.

Instead of a local presence, the organisation has opted to use the WA Department of Commerce and Trade as a physical contact and rely on the Internet as an information dissemination tool.

It seems the lack of interest WA companies have shown in Japan in recent years is partly to blame for the organisation’s departure.

JETRO’s Robert Ristic said the move was likely to benefit WA businesses in the long run because the lack of Japanese trade help

will mean WA companies will have to work harder and be less complacent.

“You only appreciate something when you’ve lost it,” Mr Ristic said.

“The US and the European Union are pushing harder for a larger slice of the cake all the time,” Mr Ristic said.

“Meanwhile, we’ve recognised that Australia and its States have been lax. This country has not been using the resources available to it.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry of WA International Trade Centre manager said it was wrong to suggest WA companies were slack in approaching new markets.

He said, just because WA companies were not using JETRO, it did not mean companies were not trying to enter the Japanese market because other avenues such as Austrade and the Department of Commerce and Trade also promoted trade.

Mr Whitaker said he believed the closure of JETRO’s Perth office, while disappointing, was not the “end of the world”.

JETRO WA director Shin-ichi Oikawa said he believed it was important for Australian companies to boost their profile in the Japanese market.

This appears to be something the US and European firms excel at.

JETRO director-general operations department Shinichi Saito said Australia ranked behind the US, the EU and Asia in terms of a Japanese profile.

Mr Saito said in national investment terms the US, the EU and Asia were leading.

“That is why we think a group approach from Australia is vital so it is not left behind,” he said.

“The fact WA is amalgamating with the Melbourne office shows JETRO is making an effort to take a group approach.”

Mr Whitaker said the facts showed WA companies were more export-orientated than many in the eastern States or US.

This was because WA companies were compelled to look outside the domestic market much sooner than a similar company in a larger domestic market, Mr Whitaker said.

Mr Oikawa said JETRO did not help all companies that came to it.

He said the organisation reviewed the products of companies that came to it and only represented those with a chance of being a contender in the Japanese market.

Mr Ristic said JETRO’s previous focus had been very broad.

“I think now the time and pace of development in Japan requires a tighter targeting of companies that have potential,” he said.

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