This is an excerpt from an exclusive article from the 2018 edition of Mexico Automotive Review that will be launched on Sept. 12, 2018 at Mexico Automotive Summit. Register now to get your tickets to the event and get a copy of our latest edition.
Yasushi Takase is the Ambassador of Japan in Mexico and the top representative of the Japanese government present in Mexico. He has over 35 years of experience in diplomacy working in several positions within the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with postings to Japan’s Representation before the UN and Geneva and as the General Consul of Japan in Rio de Janeiro. Takase negotiated the Economic Partnership Agreement between Japan and Mexico between 2001 and 2003, which spurred the arrival of Japanese FDI to Mexico and was named Ambassador of Japan in Mexico in 2017.
Q: How are the Mexican and Japanese governments promoting trade between both countries?
A: Japan and Mexico have more than 400 years of friendship. In 2018, we will celebrate the 130th anniversary of the Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation between both countries. Mexico was the first country to sign an equal footing treaty with Japan and other countries have followed. Before this, Japan had discriminatory treaties with the US and European countries. Both the Japanese and Mexican governments have promoted people and cultural exchanges with each other, which added to Japanese immigrants’ hard work and support for Mexico’s development. This has also resulted in Japanese companies enjoying the trust of the Mexican people. The most significant trade-promotion project between both nations has been the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) implemented in 2005. I negotiated the EPA on behalf of Japan between 2001 and 2003. Since its establishment, trade volumes have doubled and investments have grown significantly. While Japan has always been the top Asian investor in Mexico, Japanese investments grew rapidly due to this treaty.
Q: What is the Japanese government’s most important contribution to the development of Mexico’s auto industry?
A: Development of human resources and local suppliers are key issues that need to be solved in the automotive sector. The Japanese government has made several efforts to help Mexico beat these challenges, fostering what we call “Supporting Industry” by sending experts and training Mexicans in Japan to develop domestic suppliers. We also support local players by matching them with Japanese companies in Mexico and working with local governments to create new academic plans that meet the demands of the private sector. The Embassy of Japan participated in the creation of a new course on automotive manufacturing in CONALEP San Juan del Rio, Queretaro, for example.
Q: How ready are Japanese companies to integrate local suppliers into their productive processes?
A: Japanese companies must work with local manufacturers to satisfy local content rules established by NAFTA. These companies are developing Mexican talent and working with local suppliers. As part of our academic exchange programs between Mexico and Japan, we send 50 Japanese youngsters to Mexico and receive 50 Mexicans in return. Approximately 4,000 students have benefited from this program.
As the Opening Speaker at Mexico Automotive Summit 2018, Yasushi Takase, Ambassador of Japan in Mexico, will talk about the risks that protectionist policies pose for globally interconnected supply chains in the automotive industry. Register to find out more.