President & CEO, NEC Europe
It’s a great honour for me to succeed Mr. Hiraiwa as the new President of JBCE.
As I mentioned at the last meeting I have worked for two Japanese corporations (Sony & NEC) and each has a proud history of doing business in Europe. Both have greatly benefited from being part of the JBCE which continues to play such a key role in helping to create the favourable economic conditions for all Japanese companies within the region.
The JBCE was originally founded just prior to the Millennium, initially focusing on environmental concerns in Europe. Over the years the organization has significantly broadened its remit across all areas of Europe’s policy making and its success has been recognized both by the authorities as well as through its increasing membership.
Following the advent of Covid-19, Europe, Japan and the rest of the world are now facing an unprecedented global health crisis accompanied with severe economic consequences.
In addition, Brexit has also added to the economic uncertainty and we are seeing a worrying increase in national response, as opposed to international co-operation to overcome these challenges. Given this situation, JBCE’s strong bridge between Europe and Japan has never been more important.
On the immediate horizon, the UK will now seek to forge a new economic relationship with Europe as well as negotiate an enhanced Free Trade Agreement with Japan. The future will therefore be framed by these new agreements as well as the existing EU-Japan European Partnership Agreement.
Looking back, the current EU-Japan EPA entered into force in 2019. This has been a major achievement of EU-Japan cooperation. The EU and Japan are not only close economic partners, but also strategic partners. The JBCE has a pivotal role in supporting ever-closer EU-Japan collaboration for trade and investment, research and innovation, and many different policies. We now look forward to the next EU-Japan Summit to build upon this successful collaboration.
The JBCE also plays an integral role with business through the EU-Japan Business Round Table. This forum facilitates one of many high-level business dialogues which take place between the EU and Japan.
If I turn to the JBCE focus areas there are priorities across a range of policies and legislation that cover digital innovation, trade, environment & energy, corporate responsibility and standards & conformity.
<For Digital Innovation>
The EU hast started working towards the twin objectives of the green/ecological and digital transitions; these two transitions are fundamental tools to achieve sustainable competitiveness and resilience, as well as the post-Covid-19 recovery.
JBCE is strongly promoting free international data flows that are both safe and secure in terms of confidentiality and IPR, as well as personal privacy. Data availability, quality, use, and transfer, as well as the creation of data spaces, are fundamental to achieving the digitization of businesses and industry, as well as society as a whole.
I note that earlier this month the JBCE just released an important paper setting out a proposed European strategy for Data.
Specifically, data flows underpin the development and application of emerging technologies in areas such as AI, IoT, cybersecurity, 5G etc. Such technologies will prove fundamental to the sustainability and competitiveness of businesses and industry, as well as providing solutions for many of society’s challenges. These technological changes particularly resonate when I look at my own company’s vision of the future.
Because of the speed of change in these areas I understand the JBCE is working hard to contribute to the development of new regulations & standards related to digital policies and emerging digital technologies, specifically at EU level, but also with regard to EU cooperation with 3rd world countries as well.
<In terms of Trade>
JBCE continuously emphasizes the importance of free and fair trade as opposed to protectionism. The EU’s objective of ‘open strategic autonomy’ thus needs to seek to strike the right balance between a Europe that is open to trade and a Europe that protects its people and companies. JBCE member companies are not only stakeholders, but partners that positively contribute to the creation of a strong, sustainable and competitive Europe. They do this through their technologies, solutions and products, as well as their production and R&D facilities in Europe.
I know that COVID-19 has dominated all our lives in recent months but now the subject of Brexit returns to the table and we must hope that a strong economic and trade relationship between the EU and the UK will be at the heart of the fortcoming negotiations. The JBCE’s role in providing relevant information, expertise and suggestions to EU and UK negotiators will be important in these negotiations.
<Sustainability (Environment & Energy; Corporate Social Responsibility)>
The JBCE contributes to the EU Green Deal objectives of 2030 CO2 emission reductions/2050 carbon neutral targets, the establishment of a circular economy, and sustainable chemicals management through providing cutting-edge technologies.
The concept and objective of sustainability are being integrated in all EU policies as well as business conduct and corporate policies. The JBCE is investing its resources to shape EU policies and legislation in relation to sustainable finance, non-financial reporting, and supply chain due diligence.
To conclude, it is clear that the JBCE has much to offer in assisting the policy makers both in Europe and Japan. Especially in these economically uncertain times when countries may initially first look inwards when looking for solutions to their problems.
I hope over the next 2 years I can do justice to the role as your new President by helping to increase the membership and continuing to promote the interests of all JBCE’s member companies here in Europe.
On a personal note I really hope I have the opportunity to meet each of you face-to face in the near future. Thank you very much.
(Speech at the JBCE Annual General Assembly)
17 June, 2020