Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Magna, Manga and the Rising Sun

Speaking of exporting… (see previous post), the Globe’s Marcus Gee has an eye-opening article today on Japan. Basically, he’s reminding Canadian business people that in their rush to make their fortune in China, they shouldn't ignore the opportunities in the land of the rising sun.

Marcus dug up these facts you may not have known:

* Japan is still the world's second biggest economy, bigger than China and India combined.
* Greater Tokyo alone has a larger gross domestic product than China.
* Canadian high-tech exports to Japan are growing 15% a year. More than 60 Canadian high-tech companies are now based in Japan - surpassing the number of companies in more traditional export sectors such as agriculture and resources.
* Between 1994 and 2006, the share of Japanese imports from Canada in non-resource areas - aerospace, pharmaceuticals, machinery, consumer goods – has risen to 9.5% of total trade from 4.5%.
* “Magna and other Canadian car parts companies are active in Japan, as are more than 20 Canadian software companies, some of them exploiting the thriving animation business around Japanese comic forms such as anime and manga.”

Gee says all kinds of opportunities beckon to Canadian entrepreneurs: in financial services (Manulife Financial is a winner there), medical services, elder care, and pharmaceuticals. And also in high-end fashion, outdoor wear and cosmetics, biotech and nanotech, aerospace, and environmental industries.

Rightly, he admits there are still many barriers to doing business in Japan. “Its efforts at reforming and deregulating the economy to make it more flexible and more open to foreign interests have been halting at best. Since the departure of reforming prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, they seem to have run out of steam altogether.”

Still, he concludes, as industrialized democracies, "Canada and Japan have lots in common - more, you could argue, than Canada and China. They should start showing it.”

Until it slips behind the dreaded pay wall, you can read Marcus’s column here.

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