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Mitsubishi Corp. says Australia is ’veritable lifeline’ to Japan’s economy

Xinhua | Jul 07,2014

Mitsubishi Corp. says Australia is ’veritable lifeline’ to Japan’s economy

SYDNEY, July 7 (Xinhua) — Mitsubishi Corp. chairman Yorihiko Kojima said Australia was a "veritable lifeline" for Japan’s economy and the resource-rich nation would continue to be a favourable long-term investment destination for Japanese businesses, The Australian newspaper reported on Monday.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives in Canberra on Monday night to sign a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), and Kojima is part of a Japanese business delegation, which will attend the signing ceremony as well as a business lunch with members of the Australia-Japan Business Co-operation Committee.

Kojima said the new FTA would increase trade and investment with Japan, Australia’s second biggest trading partner with almost 70 billion Australian dollars (65.5 billion U.S. dollars) in two- way trade every year.

"Australia remains one of the world’s major suppliers of resources, and has potential for growth in other areas as well, including agri-industry," he said.

"These facts, coupled with well-developed infrastructure and openness to foreign investment as well as proximity to dynamic Asian markets, make Australia a very attractive destination for foreign investment.

"Expectations are therefore high in the business community that your government will address the current challenges effectively."

Kojima said the FTA would benefit Japanese investment in Australia’s lucrative mining industry.

"The EPA (FTA) will have a positive impact on expanding trade and investment between our two countries and will have a particularly strong effect on strengthening technical and other types of collaboration in the resource sector," he said.

Mitsubishi Corp. recently bought the Australian operations of grain handler Olam, to add to its multi-billion dollar investments in the resource industry including the BMA joint venture, a coal operation jointly owned with BHP Billiton, and several gas fields.

"As (Australia is) one of the world’s largest wheat producing countries and the largest exporter of wheat to the Southeast Asian market, this will bolster our capacity to forge a stronger and more stable procurement system in Australia’s competitive grain market," Kojima said.

"This is also part of efforts to strengthen our global value chain in non-resource sectors while at the same time contributing to greater dynamism in the Australian economy."

Kojima said Australia was among the world’s most resource-rich countries and "represents a veritable lifeline for the Japanese economy."

"I do not foresee Australia losing importance for us as a major business partner," he said.

"On the contrary, I believe Japanese investment will continue to play a key role in Australia’s resource sectors, so our overall commitment to Australia is long term.

"Our involvement in Australia covers non-resource sectors such as water utilities, (the) sales operations of Isuzu D-Max and car parts, as well as involvement in the food and retailing industries, including grains and milk powder, among others.

"We are also exploring opportunities for potential expansion in the retail and consumer markets in Australia."

 source: Xinhua