The EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement created the world’s largest trade zone made up of more than half a billion people. Since the EPA came into force in 2019, businesses and citizens of Greece and Japan immediately felt the agreement’s positive impact, particularly in the agri-food sector.
As a result of the EPA, tariffs for wine and alcoholic beverages were slashed from 15% to zero. In the coming years, 85% of EU agri-food exports to Japan will be covered by further trade liberalization.
The world’s 3rd largest economy, Japan has a solid reputation as a reliable partner not only of large companies but also of SMEs across the 27-member trading bloc. Notwithstanding the obvious commercial benefits, the EPA is also ambitious in its goal of building a more environmentally sustainable future and promoting the equitable distribution of wealth.
What does this mean for Greek businesses and the local community?
Prior to the pandemic, total trade volume between Japan and Greece has been in a decreasing trend since the economic crisis in Greece, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. But, in 2020, Greek exports to Japan doubled, while Japan jumped from ten places to No. 22 in terms of trade volume to Greece, according to the December 2020 figures from Enterprise Greece, which organizes regular online seminars on Doing Business in Japan to help local businesses expand their overseas markets.
Greek agri-food products, pharmaceuticals and consumer goods, such as cosmetics, have emerged the biggest winners. This comes as no surprise given the trade synergy that exists between the two countries. On one hand, Greek products are known for their superior quality and state-of-the-art packaging. While on the other, the average Japanese consumer is widely known to have high expectations regarding goods and services.
What is also interesting is the growing trend among Japanese towards healthy and nutritious food, a blessing for Greek food producers that represent the widely-praised “Mediterranean diet.”
Beyond consumer goods, innovation and digital transformation have also emerged as major growth areas when it comes to cross-border opportunities. Greek entrepreneurs from the US and other countries have returned him to share their expertise and talent with their enterprising compatriots.
This is a welcome development as Greece’s construction, IT and healthcare sectors have embraced the digital economy and can easily find partners in Japan, which has long been known as the leader in high tech innovation and digital transformation.
Although the world has yet to totally contain the COVID-19 pandemic, Greek enterprises have continued venturing beyond their European borders and have discovered that Greece’s relationship with Japan only just beginning.