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.”