The second largest Belgian mission started in Tokyo and will last between 5 and 9 December. The mission to Japan brought 210 Belgian companies, including 61 enterprises from the Brussels region. Through its on-site attaché, hub.brussels prepared a varied programme and will be accompanying and supporting the Brussels companies during the mission.
Princess Astrid is leading the Belgian mission and is accompanied by Minister of International Affairs, European Affairs, Foreign Trade and Federal Cultural Institutions, Hadja Lahbib, Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon and Brussels State Secretary for Urbanism and Heritage, European and International Relations and Foreign Trade, Pascal Smet. Federal State Secretary Mathieu Michel will take part in digitisation activities.
The political delegation will meet Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs Yoshimasa Hayashi and governor of Aichi Prefecture Hideaki Ōmura, to confirm and strengthen the close ties between our country and Japan towards the future.
These princely economic missions are organised by the three regional agencies for trade and investment promotion (hub.brussels, Flanders Investment & Trade and the Agence Wallonne à l’Exportation) and coordinated by the Federal Agency for Foreign Trade.
“Brussels is the ‘Gateway to Europe’, has tons of know-how, expertise and potential, and has world class products. We will convey these messages in Japan this week. For example, our technology sector is tremendously strong and innovative and we are one of the front-runners in the world in terms of circular building. We are going to showcase that more in the world.”Pascal Smet, Brussels State Secretary for International Relations and Foreign Trade.
The Brussels Region aims to showcase the outstanding expertise of its companies in numerous fields in Japan and to further position Brussels internationally as the perfect location to establish a European branch or headquarters of a Japanese company.
There are many reasons why Brussels is the perfect place to settle in Europe.
Today we present Brussels to Japanese business people and show the great expertise of our companies to guide international companies to access the European market. https://t.co/QL4d8YE1bL#BEmissionJPN pic.twitter.com/2WNsyO7BOI
— Pascal Smet (@SmetPascal) December 6, 2022
Hub.brussels, the Brussels Agency for Business Support, compiled a varied programme tailored to Brussels companies. These companies all have different objectives during the mission, such as an initial market exploration, meeting potential and current customers and partners, presenting Brussels products and concluding concrete cooperation agreements and sales.
Brussels specifically highlights its innovative technology sector, its financial sector and several Brussels craft products.
#Craftmanship is a well known export product and an important sector for #Brussels in terms of added value, creativity & employment. The #BEmissionJPN is an opportunity to promote our craftspeople and showcase high-end products such as jewelry, fashion, design & beauty products. pic.twitter.com/Gq6UdSXvaq
— hub.brussels (@Brussels_hub) December 7, 2022
Belgium and Japan maintain good relations, and this applies even more to the Brussels Capital Region. For example, Brussels has not only had a trade representative in Japan since 1994, but also has cooperation agreements with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and Aichi Prefecture. These ties will be strengthened during the economic missions: State Secretary Smet will meet representatives of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, as well as the Aichi governor, to further strengthen cooperation.
Since the implementation of the European free trade agreement, in 2019, between Japan and the European Union, the amount of commercial exchanges between Brussels and Japan has strongly risen. Japanese companies often rely on the knowledge and expertise of Brussels companies and the Japanese market is an important export market for several Brussels sectors, such as the chemical and textile industries.
With 61 Brussels companies out of a total of 210 Belgian companies, the Brussels economic sector was strongly represented on this mission. Not only businesses, but also other Brussels institutions, such as universities, participated. The companies and organisations were provided an individual, tailor-made programme to establish contacts on site, to further develop existing relationships and to conclude new cooperation agreements with Japanese partners. In this respect, the presentation of the renewed cooperation between Brussels-based Zetes and Panasonic was one of the highlights of the mission.
In addition to the individual programmes, companies and organisations also took part in a varied programme of seminars and networking sessions.
The Brussels companies were accompanied by hub.brussels, the Brussels Agency for Business Support.
“The gateway to Europe”
Today, thanks to the strong ties between Belgium and Japan and between Brussels and Tokyo, some 40 Japanese companies already established themselves in Brussels. The presence of the European institutions, where political decision are made, obviously plays a major role in this. The great know-how of Brussels companies and Brussels growing attention to the life quality of its inhabitants improve our capital’s attractiveness. Among the better-known companies already operating in Brussels are Fujitsu, Bank of Tokyo, Mitsubishi, Daikin, Mitsui, Sony, Suzuki and Panasonic.
The mission will highlight this unique position of Brussels as a gateway to the European market. In cooperation with visit.brussels, hub.brussels and Brussels International, several activities and meetings are planned within that framework.
Many Brussels companies with great know-how in European legislation are also taking part to highlight both their expertise and the Brussels ecosystem.
Sustainable urban transition
Tokyo, like Brussels and many other world cities, is today making the shift to a sustainable city. The economy of Japan is also currently making this profound shift. Japan aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and its transition to a low-carbon society is well under way.
A specific goal of the Brussels mission is directly linked to this. Indeed, our rich ecosystem of sustainable urban development and circular construction will be showcased during the mission.
The economic mission in Japan is not a “one shot”. Hub.brussels has a permanent commercial attaché in Tokyo, who actively guides Brussels companies on the Japanese market and shows interested Japanese companies the way to the Belgian and European capital.
Brussels craftsmanship is greatly appreciated
In addition to attracting new companies, the Brussels programme also aimed at introducing various sectors in which Brussels companies excel to Japanese companies and investors. Activities were organised to showcase our strong financial ecosystem and share our companies’ know-how and expertise on circular construction.
Apart from highlighting its know-how, Brussels also showcased its craftsmanship in Japan during the past week. Belgian and Brussels products such as chocolate and beer are very popular in Japan. Last week, we seized our high quality reputation to present other Brussels products to the Japanese public and distributors, such as the soaps of Savonneries Bruxelloises, the perfumes of Ifrane, the jewellery of Evangelo Jewelry, the leather goods of MLS, the design objects of MLLE JO, the handmade fabrics of Les Moussors de Awa, the natural products of Eco-Rah and the art and design objects of This Is Not Belgium.
Belgian beers were also featured, at the Belgian Beer Weekend, which was opened by Princess Astrid and the accompanying Belgian ministers.
In cooperation with visit.brussels and Brussels Airport, Brussels’ tourist assets were highlighted at an event for Japanese tour operators.
Hub.brussels makes it a point of honour to highlight female entrepreneurship every economic mission. Brussels and Japanese businesswomen also exchanged views in Japan.