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1. He recently visited Riopele. On this occasion he asserted that “Japan has huge potential for growth”. How important is Japan for the Portuguese economy?
The commercial exchanges between Portugal and Japan are still less intense than we would wish and there is great potential for growth. It is the 3rd largest economy in the world, with a mature, sophisticated market with great added value and any attempt to enter this market deserves special attention. But the ensuing gains tend to clearly offset the investment required and the mutual investments that are already in progress clearly demonstrate this.
2. In your opinion, what are the main competitive arguments that a Portuguese company will have to bring to the Japanese market?
As it is a mature market with high purchasing power, quality is an evident differentiating factor, but I would also say that it is vital to pay attention to the specific cultural aspects of Japan: from the outset, speaking in Japanese, but also seeking to establish a bridge between the products and services of the company and Japanese traditions. I’ll give you an example: it’s not uncommon for world brands to have exclusive editions of their products here alluding to the cherry blossoming season, and successfully so.
3. In light of the fact that sustainability is the flavour of the month in Europe at the moment, how important is this theme to the Japanese consumer?
The phenomenon of environmental concerns, namely with regard to sustainability, is more recent in Japan than in Portugal. But recently we have witnessed a major investment in raising the environmental awareness of the Japanese population, particularly in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals and the population are visibly signing up to these new concepts. One thing's for sure: although they started later, the dissemination of new concepts in Japanese society, when it starts, tends to be rapid and highly effective. I wouldn’t be surprised if in the very short-term Japan became a reference in this field.