Bridges: Can you give us an overview of JETRO’s prominent role in sustaining bilateral trade and investment between Japan and Turkey — milestones and ongoing projects?
Kobayashi: Amid the situation in Ukraine compelling companies to reconsider their supply chain, there is growing attention on Turkey. Therefore, we are particularly focused on providing information. Facilitating the introduction and promotion of Japanese food products in Turkey, support of innovative Turkish startups and the improvement of business environment for Japanese companies operating in Turkey are also our priority areas. Moreover, we provide support for Japanese companies to develop business in third countries in cooperation with Turkish companies.
Turkey and Japan have strong ties based on their historical friendship and I believe that there is a lot of potential in economy and business. However, there are still a lot of things to know about each other so we need to deepen our mutual understanding.
The year 2023 will be the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Republic of Turkey and 2024 will mark the 100th anniversary of the commencement of the diplomatic relations between Turkey and Japan. Both occasions can be said to be good opportunities to foster our relationships in various areas such as business and culture.
The conclusion of EPA between Turkey and Japan is of pivotal importance for expanding our economic relations and there is high expectation for its early conclusion.
What are some examples of successful Turkish-Japan partnerships and collaborations?
To give an example to JETRO’s assistance, we can mention export of a Japanese soy sauce and a sake brand to Japanese restaurant chain in Turkey. Considering there has been no instance of constant export of Japanese food from Japan to Turkey, this stands as a noteworthy success story of the steady efforts of both companies. Considering this encouraging case as a stepping stone, we would like to continue our efforts to create many more concrete success stories, even if the amounts may not be considerable.
Our support for Turkish startups with innovative technologies has also been progressing little by little. I think there is still a lot possibility for various collaborations with Japanese companies in industrial fields where Turkey is strong such as content, medical equipment, and agricultural machinery”
What message would you like to share to the Turkey-Japan business community?
I am sure that we can expect a relationship of more than 1+1=2 by forming a good complementary relationship while leveraging the strengths of the companies of both countries.
Business and economic activities have been stagnating for the last few years due to the impact of corona virus, but I hope that both business communities will actively work to recover greatly from now on. As JETRO, we will do our best to help them.