Today we can read in media that EU and Japan have signed a free trade deal that eliminates tariffs on nearly all goods between Europe and Japan. We can read that this agreement covers 600 million some people and almost a third of the global economy and finally some good news for all who support free trade and think this Is a major accomplishment for both EU and Japan to grow strong when others are talking about tariffs and building “walls” around their markets and economy. EU and Japan traded some €129 billion ($152 billion) of goods last year, according to EU data.
The president of the European Council, Donald Tusk made a statement calling this agreement the “largest bilateral trade deal ever” and continue saying “Relations between the European Union and Japan have never been stronger. Geographically, we are far apart. But politically and economically we could hardly be any closer.”
Sometimes we here in Sweden are called the Japanese of Europe and the reason for that is mainly we appreciate long term thinking in business, quality and we do our best to honour our agreement and promises to each other. There are many similarities between the Japanese and Scandinavian business cultures. The main difference is how we relate to formality, which is higher in Japan, but we are also used to it working with Germany. We here are B-Open Nordic have worked with Japanese companies for many years. Now it will be even easier for Japan to Europe, but we also must do our best to grow on the Japanese Market.
Scandinavian sales culture is normally successful in Japan they don’t like aggressive sales tactics but if you stay objective and focus on an honest approach, you will be taken more seriously. If you disagree, make sure you express that in an indirect and subtle manner. The business role play is still important in Japan, especially within the Japanese colleagues and if you make non-verbal cues or use body language to show reservations they will pick it up.
Many of us know already that in Japan the Group is more important than the Individual. In Scandinavia we like to praise individuals in front of group as much as we can but in Japan it is better to focus on praising the Group and sometimes take individual to the said and praise them alone. Role play and to respect age within the hierarchical system is strong and important in Japan but within close doors, within a management or leadership group there are room to be honest and direct. Japanese leaders have no problem hearing criticism but do that in the closer group and support the leader in front of the larger group when you have decided your strategy and path to growth. It is common sense, when you visit a family you should always introduce yourself to the oldest person in the room first and make sure you are extra polite to them during the visit.
Never forget our business cards in Asia including Japan. You should always have business cards ready and if possible why not print it in both English and Japanese, especially if you are intending to establish your business in Japan seeking local partners and customers. Show the Japanese that you and your contact information are very valuable and pass it on with both hand respectfully, receive the other persons card in the same way and never slide it over the table or worse, say you forgot it home.
There are many more tips and help we can offering you while doing business between Europa and Japan. We are a business consulting firm in Sweden that have a lot of experience in negotiating with companies in Japan. We can assist you when you want to make a new contract with a customer or supplier in Japan. The first and perhaps most important advice we can give all is that no one should offer any commercial or legal advice without knowing a lot more about your goals with this contract. Secondly everyone must do their homework (due diligence) as you cannot negotiate effectively, design a good contract unless you really know who you are dealing with.
Business meetings in Japan are many times focus on information collection, not to make a deal. You need to be able to negotiate and finish without stress. Lastly, for Japanese, quality and price is the most critical of negotiation. Be prepared to negotiate hard about the price but only when you agree on right quality and specification.
For more information how we can help you, contact us for a meeting. Visit our website www.bopen.se for further contact details.