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Don’t Overlook Japan’s “Awesome” Buying Power

14 October 2004

Don’t Overlook Japan’s “Awesome” Buying Power – Gibson

The “awesome” buying power of the Japanese consumer “shrieks opportunity” for New Zealand exporters, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise chief executive Tim Gibson said today.

Speaking to the Japan-New Zealand Business Council conference in Queenstown Mr Gibson said that in recent years many in New Zealand had been “bedazzled” by China’s rise from under performer to economic powerhouse.

China is an increasingly important market, however, New Zealanders shouldn’t lose sight of Japan, Mr Gibson said.

“Japan’s so-called troubles over the past decade have been such as most countries would dream of having to endure.

“It’s not just the sheer size of the Japanese economy that shrieks opportunity for New Zealand – although that size is awesome. It is one of the richest and most advanced societies the world has ever seen.”

“We in New Zealand should never forget that Japan remains at the heart of Asia’s prosperity, accounting for more than 60 percent of intra-Asian trade and 70 percent of the region’s GDP,” Mr Gibson said.

He told the conference the Japan-New Zealand trading relationship was characterised by a high degree of complementarity – which he said was not reflected in the present volume of trade.

“Japanese consumers have awesome buying power. They are fastidious. They appreciate, demand and, most importantly, can afford quality.

“New Zealand, most obviously in the area a foodstuffs but increasingly in respect of a raft of other products, is able to supply such products,” Mr Gibson said.

And he said that while “in the meantime” a full free trade agreement between New Zealand and Japan was out of reach, Japan’s world view, as it applied to trading relationships, was undergoing a “dynamic metamorphosis.”

“There is new thinking and there are new possibilities opening up.”

Mr Gibson said New Zealand’s participation in next year’s world exposition at Aichi and the associated leveraging project designed to exploit participation in the event, reflected a “new level of engagement” with Japan.

“Progress in the WTA Doha Round will oblige Japan to open its markets further. Meantime, there are many opportunities available under the existing tariff regime,” Mr Gibson said.

ENDS

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