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EU-Japan trade deal: the opportunities for small business

EU-Japan trade deal: the opportunities for small business

Business Planet focuses on the world’s biggest bilateral trade deal between the EU and Japan and asks how small European firms can maximise business opportunities.
Dubbed the cars-for-cheese trade deal, due to the commercial opportunities for Japanese carmakers and European farmers, the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) slashes duties on both Japanese and European imports respectively. In force since February this year, the deal’s headline figures are huge – nearly 30 percent of global GDP, 40 percent of global trade and the largest open-trade zone in the world, covering 600 million people – but what does it mean for European exporters, particularly SMEs, and how can small and medium-sized firms get the most out of it?

Harnessing the light fantastic
From precision medicine and computer mapping to DVD players and defence systems, lasers are now used in a wide variety of applications. Altechna is a specialist in the field. The Lithuanian SME makes laser optics and coatings – tools that can transmit and manipulate laser light. Based in the capital Vilnius, the company has a worldwide customer base. That includes Japan, which has become a major market for the firm.

“Japan was the market for us. It’s a global innovation centre putting a strong emphasis on cutting edge technologies,” explains Andrius Šlekys, Head of Business Development at Altechna.

He adds, “We felt it was the right place to offer our laser-based solutions. However, breaking into the Japanese market was not straightforward and we needed some help.”