Bilateral trade has increased markedly recently. The volume of Spanish exports has doubled, from 1,213 million euros accounted for in 2009 to 2,527 million in 2018.

Spanish imports from Japan have been recovering since 2013, when the historical maximum was reached with 2,437 million euros, and in 2018 they reached 4,132 million euros.

The presence of Spanish companies in this market has also increased. In 2017, a total of 8,993 companies exported to Japan, while in 2018 the figure increased to 9,084 companies.

Spain was for Japan the sixth supplier of the European Union in 2018, with 0.4% of Japanese imports. For its part, Japan ranked 16th among customers in Spain, with a 0.9% share.

The main Spanish goods exported to Japan in 2018 were meat products (17.29%), pharmaceutical products (14.84%), motor vehicles (13.14%), fats and oils (5.55%), minerals (4 , 68%), non-knit clothing (4.48%), fishery products (3.68%), beverages (3.67%), organic chemicals (3.43%) and garments of point (2.46%).

Japanese imports in 2018 were concentrated in sectors related to automotive and machinery, which accounted for more than half of purchases of manufactures from this Asian market. The breakdown of the main products is headed by vehicles and tractors (49.77%) and machines and mechanical devices (18.62%). Significant, but smaller, percentages registered products such as appliances and electrical equipment (9.99%), optical devices (5.55%), organic chemistry (2.70%) and plastics (1.93%).

In terms of investments, Japan ranked 12th in 2016 among foreign investors in our country, with accumulated flows of 5,701 million euros, more than 4,194 million in the previous year. The Spanish investment in Japan in 2016 registered a stock of 194.9 million euros.

EU-Japan Agreement

The Economic Partnership Agreement between the European Union and Japan will boost trade in goods and services, generating great investment opportunities for both parties.

Among the non-tariff measures included in the Agreement and directly affecting EU companies, some have to do with technical requirements and certification procedures that can hinder European and Spanish exports to Japan.

It is estimated that 85% of European agri-food products could enter the Japanese market duty-free. The Agreement also guarantees respect for the European geographical indications of more than 200 products subject to protected designations of origin.

Business opportunities

Japan is the third largest economy in the world and one of the most industrialized and technologically advanced countries. Its market is characterized by its considerable size, with more than 126 million potential consumers who enjoy a high standard of living and are concentrated in large urban areas. Quality is an aspect highly valued by Japanese consumers.

In the coming years, some sectors are expected to experience greater growth in this market, especially sectors such as medical care and social assistance, telecommunications, biotechnology, alternative energy and distribution and logistics. Even in the most advanced technology sectors there are opportunities that can be exploited by Spanish companies that provide concrete advantages.

The Spanish commercial authorities are interested in diversifying the export offer to the Japanese market. Leading sectors such as pharmaceutical, biotechnology, chemical, water treatment, energy, smart cities or aeronautics have benefited from promotional initiatives.

The quality shown in the Japanese market by Spanish products in sectors such as consumer goods, habitat, footwear and textile and agri-food fashion means that there is still ample room for growth, despite the existing market access barriers.

Business cooperation to expand the presence in regional markets close to both countries is also an area in which beneficial business opportunities for Japanese and Spanish companies are opened.

The Fukushima nuclear crisis represented important business opportunities in Japan for companies specializing in the dismantling of nuclear power plants and the management of radioactive waste, sectors in which Spain has extensive experience.

>> Related documents:

Japan: country file

Japan: economic and commercial report

Japan: country guide

Main sectors exported to Japan

Main sectors imported from Japan

OECD Economic Surveys: Japan

Statistics at METI – Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan

>> Links of interest:

Government of Japan

Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) – Office in Spain

Yalwa Japanese business directory

Japan: Embassy of Japan in Spain

Japan: Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry

ICEX Spain Export and Investment

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