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V4 after Brexit: a new opportunity for Japan in Europe?

13th December 2017 KKI gave home to the event „V4 after Brexit: new opportunity for Japan in Europe? “

In his opening speech Márton Schőberl, director of KKI, has emphasized that Brexit is both a challenge and an opportunity for the V4 countries and Japan to form an effective cooperation with the EU.

In his keynote speech, Takura Shimodaira, senior researcher of the National Institute for Defence Studies (NIDS) described the main strategic challenges of and the solutions given by Japan emphasizing the importance of the value of freedom, democracy and the rule of law for his country.

The first panel was moderated by Viktória Orbán, researcher of the Graduate School of East Asian Studies (Freie Universität Berlin), who emphasized that the cooperation provides the V4 countries with the opportunity to become a bridge between the EU and the United Kingdom. In their opening remarks, the experts introduced the general view of their countries in connection with Brexit and the future of the European Union. Zoltán Südy, former ambassador of Hungary to Japan, highlighted the importance of Europe and the UK in the history and development of Japan and he also agreed that Japanese companies are waiting and watching closely but the chance of all Japanese companies leaving the UK as a result of Brexit is rather small. In connection with the EU-Japan cooperation, Boštjan Bertalanič, associate professor at Josai University in Japan, said that the recently signed economic partnership agreement with the EU is of serious importance for Japan. Consequently, the bilateral agreement offered by the UK is not regarded as of primary significance at the moment.

The leading question of the second panel was “how to make V4 countries attractive for Japanese investors?” and it was moderated by Péter Goreczky, senior researcher of KKI. In the experts’ opinion this question is difficult to answer due to the uncertainties created by Brexit. Przemyslaw Biskup, senior analyst of the Polish Institute of International Affairs, drew the attention to the fact that Japan is looking for talents in the EU and that the V4 countries are able to provide an outstanding source of talents. In agreement with Albrecht Rothacher, principal administrator at European External Action Service, he emphasized that precision and perfect investment environment are inevitable for Japanese investors and those conditions could be provided by the V4 countries in long term as well. Tünde Kis, vice president of the Hungarian Investment Promotion Agency (HIPA), confirmed the above mentioned opinions based on the data collected by the agency. Talking about the activity of the agency, she listed the most important conditions concerning the investors which included the quality of the infrastructure, the readiness of the government for cooperation, the values of communication and feedback and at last but not least the liveability of the neighbourhood. Masahide Honda, general director of the Budapest Office of Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), emphasized that the most intensive Japanese investors in the region are automotive companies but the overall amount of other Japanese investments has been increasing as well. Answering audience questions, he agreed that Japanese companies look for larger target regions when it comes to investment and that the V4 countries are considered as good target region as well. Márton Ugrósdy, director of strategy of KKI, pronounced that the V4 cooperation gives the countries the chance for synergy as the necessary workforce of a new investment might be provided not only by one country, which is especially the case in manufacturing units near the country borders, and the development of infrastructure could mean significant benefits for all V4 countries. Reflecting on the effects of Brexit, he said that although the UK used to be the symbol of economic stability in Europe, changes would be unavoidable and home political issues and uncertainties would have an effect on international rating as well and thus the V4 cooperation has got the opportunity to make the region attractive for FDI through providing appropriate workforce and an inviting investment environment.