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Export to Japan

Discover how to tap into Japan's knowledge intensive sectors.

On this page

  • Key opportunities for exporting to Japan
  • Victorian Government support
  • Advice on business in Japan

Japan's Economy

Japan is the third largest economy in the world, with a GDP of US$4.1 billion and a population of 127 million in 2015.

After a prolonged period of deflation, Japan's economy has shown some signs of growth under Prime Minister Abe's economic stimulus program. Abenomics, as the program is referred to, consists of three economic policies (monetary, fiscal, and structural reform) designed to stimulate growth and build business confidence.

While the economy has shown signs of improvement, Government debt and an ageing population pose key challenges for Japan into the future.

Export Overview

Australia's second largest trading partner

Japan was Australia's second-largest trading partner in 2015. Australia is Japan's third largest source of imports.

In 2015, Australian goods exports to Japan were worth A$44.5 billion and service exports were worth A$2 billion. Australia's major goods exports to Japan in 2015 included coal (A$11.7 billion), iron ore and concentrates (A$6.7 billion), and beef (A$1.9 billion). The major services exports were tourism and transport.

Victoria and Japan

In 2014-15, Victoria exported A$1.82 billion worth of goods to Japan with major commodities exported including cheese and curd, liquefied propane and butane, aluminium and beef. Japan is Victoria's second largest market for food and fibre exports, valued at A$893 million in 2014-15. Dairy, meat and prepared foods made up 82 per cent of this total.

International education and tourism remain Victoria's key service exports to Japan. In 2015, there were an estimated 46,600 Japanese overnight visitors to Victoria, an 11.9 per cent increase on the previous year. 

In the year to December 2015, 2,735 international student enrolments from Japan were recorded onshore in Victorian institutions. 

Japan Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA)

The Japan Australia Economic Partnership Agreement was signed by Prime Minister Abbott and Prime Minister Abe on 8 July 2014 in Canberra. Under the agreement, more than 97 per cent of Australia's exports to Japan will receive preferential access or enter duty-free. The agreement also guarantees access to the Japanese market for a range of services.

Current and Emerging Opportunities

Key opportunities for Victorian export growth include:

  • ICT
  • food and agribusiness
  • energy and resources
  • education
  • health and aged care
  • international sporting events. 

ICT

A program of regulatory reform presents opportunities for companies working in higher value-added and knowledge intensive sectors such as the life sciences, information technology, nanotechnology, and aerospace.

Food and Agribusiness

Japan remains an important market for Victorian food and beverages with food self-sufficiency in Japan sitting at around 40 per cent.

Opportunities exist for suppliers of dairy, meat, wine and some vegetables and fruits. Prepared foods, particularly those in the functional, organic or healthy categories, or products with a unique selling proposition or packaging, are of interest to Japanese buyers.

While Japan currently has a low or zero tariff on most industrial products, Japan maintains tariffs and restrictions on many agricultural items. The recently negotiated Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA), which is expected to be ratified in early 2015, will provide tariff reductions and increased quotas on a number of key products including beef, horticulture, wine and seafood.

Energy and Resources

Japan's high dependency on energy imports and reassessment of nuclear power usage since the Fukushima disaster presents opportunities not only for energy suppliers, but companies with expertise in clean energy and environmental technologies.

Education

Japan's drive to internationalise its higher education sector to deliver a more globally competitive workforce presents opportunities for Victorian institutes looking for partnerships, research and development (R&D) collaboration and international student placements.

Health and Aged Care

With a rapidly ageing population, Japan is likely to see an increasing need for more services and products in the areas of health and aged care. With Victoria's internationally recognised health and aged care capabilities and expertise, Victorian companies are well placed to offer products and services in the areas of medical R&D, education, medical devices and other areas of healthcare management.

The Victorian Government will provide funding to assist Victorian businesses to take their world-leading health and aged care solutions to global markets.

International sporting events

Japan is hosting both the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games, which will require stadium construction, as well as sporting products, services and event management capabilities. The total cost of building and refurbishing venues is expected to reach approximately US$3.7 billion. Victorian firms are experienced in delivering world class sporting infrastructure and events and are well placed to meet Japan's requirements.

Victorian Government support

The Victorian Government supports a broad range of initiatives to support deeper trade and investment ties with Japan including targeted in-market activities through its Access Program and Trade Mission program.

The Victorian Government Business Office, located in Tokyo, provides in-market intelligence and support to Victorian companies and is well-placed to assist with making business connections in Japan.

Doing business in Japan

Business etiquette and practices are important in Japan. The Japanese are extremely polite and place importance on respect and social rank. Confrontation is to be avoided in meetings and Australians who show modesty will be well regarded by Japanese people.

Business cards are essential to doing business in Japan.

The Japanese are team orientated and consensus based decision making is important. Decision making may therefore take longer than expected. Australian companies wishing to do business in Japan should take a long term view.

Japanese consumers and suppliers expect very high quality from all suppliers of products and services.

Regulatory and legal environment

Tariffs, quotas and restrictions apply to many products of relevance to Australian exporters. Some tariffs will be reduced under JAEPA and some quotas increased. For detailed information on tariffs, visit Japan's Tariff Schedule.

Import licencing may be required for some products.

Many food and consumer products are subject to very specific labeling requirements and importers should always be consulted prior to shipment.

Get in touch

For more information, contact Nicole Andrews, Manager, Trade Engagement – Japan and Korea.