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Promising market: Japan

As part of the export initiative Exportinitiative.neu the former Federal Minister Andrä Rupprechter stayed in Japan from 2–7 November 2015, with a high-ranking business Delegation.

He was accompanied by the President of the Austrian Farmers’ Association, Jakob Auer, the Provincial Counsellors Maximilian Hiegelsberger and Johann Seitinger, of Upper Austria and Styria respectively, the President of the Austrian Biomass Association, Josef Plank, as well as the Vice SG of the Federation of Austrian Industry, Peter Koren.

Following the Russian ban on food imports from all EU Member States, Austria’s agricultural and food sectors have begun searching for alternative markets outside the EU, particularly in Asia. After the US and China, Japan is one of Austria’s most important trade partners outside Europe. At present, the major products Austria exports to Japan are pork, cheese, fruit juices, chocolate, and wine, with a huge increase in pork exports being registered last year alone.

Japanese consumers have high purchasing power and expect a high level of product quality; in fact, high quality wholesome food, produced in a natural manner, is in high demand, as are innovative technologies in the fields of environment, timber industry and forest Management.

United by culinary delights

At the ‘United by culinary delights and foods from Austria’ event, held at the Hotel Conrad Tokyo, rouhgly 30 Austrian companies from the agricultural and food industry presented their products, along with approximately 70 winegrowers, who were also represented by the Japanese wine ambassador. The event was organised by Außenwirtschaft Österreich (AWO), a part of the Economic Chamber, in cooperation with AgrarMarkt Austria and Österreich Wein Marketing, and targeted Japanese journalists and shoppers.

In addition to the exhibition, the Austrian Trade Attaché in Tokyo, Michael Otter, and his team organised a cooking workshop for Japanese journalists at the Hotel Andaz in Tokyo. The Salzburg-born cook Gerhard Passrugger, who worked at famous hotels in London, Sydney, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, aims to bring ‘a taste of home’ to Japan.

BSE export ban for Austrian beef is to be lifted

During the ad hoc meeting with the new Japanese Agriculture Minister, Mrs Hiroshi Moriyama, and the Japanese Health Minister, Yasuhisa Shiozaki, Federal Minister Rupprechter called for improved export opportunities for Austrian agricultural products, particularly for beef and apples.

Austria would like to see the Japanese BSE export ban, which has been in place since 1999, lifted, so that Austrian beef can be exported to Japan. In order to achieve this aim, Moriyama has promised to have the veterinary certificates submitted by the Austrian veterinary authority, the Federal Ministry of Health, examined at the first available opportunity.

Due to phytosanitary provisions, imports of fresh Austrian fruits are presently not possible, due to the presence of both the “Mediterranean fruit fly” and “codling moth”, which are pests native to Europe that could have a devastating effect on Japanese agriculture.

This restriction, too, was discussed at the meeting with both Ministers.

As an immediate follow-up to the previous meeting, the Economic Attaché Otter brought the relevant documents to the Japanese Ministry of Health.

"Forest technology, biomass, and environmental technology" Exhibition

A congress on “Forest technology, biomass, and environmental technology” was held in Nagano, with numerous Japanese and Austrian experts being present. In addition, another exhibition on the same topic was held, with some 35 Austrian companies in attendance to present their products. Shuichi Abe, the Governor of Nagano Prefecture, who also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation in the forestry sector with Minister Rupprechter in Vienna on 27 October 2015, emphasised Austria’s pioneering role in the fields of renewable energy, protection against natural hazards, and sustainable forest management.

Climate protection and the anti-nuclear movement

A meeting with Japan’s new Environment Minister, Tamayo Marukawa, focused on both the UN Climate Conference held in Paris on December 2015, as well as renewable energy. Minister Rupprechter invited his colleague to Austria, in order for her to see the high share of energy generated from renewable sources.

Rupprechter also met with representatives of the Japanese anti-nuclear movement. Although surveys show that most Japanese oppose nuclear power, the first two units of the nuclear power plant Sendai in Satsumasendai, Prefecture of Kagoshima, were once again put into operation this year- in August and October respectively. During their discussions, Rupprechter once again emphasised the importance of renewable energy.

With his dedicated working visit to Japan, Minister Rupprechter acted as a political facilitator for the export of Austrian quality products from the fields of agriculture, food, environmental technology, forestry, and timber Management.