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This article first appeared in our TECHMANAGE newsletter
December 1998, Volume 2, Issue 7

Why do we keep returning to the globalization theme? Isn't it hard enough to keep up with domestic business?

Indeed it is. But we do want to convince you that you need to be aware of the entire global marketplace, and plan to be involved in it if you're not already.

Globalization is not too different from the Y2K issue: plenty of scary tales have been told about the Asian, Mexican, South American, Eastern European (you name it) economic scenes. You have two basic choices: bury your head in the sand, playing ostrich and hoping the world passes you by (it will!) or "make hay while the sun shines" by selecting and capturing opportunities and dodging new rivals that are streaming by just outside your doorstep.

Rather than me jabbering on in the abstract, let's take a virtual walk through some of the exhibits at the 13th annual Global Business Opportunities Convention (G-BOC). It is sponsored chiefly by the Osaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI) and the Osaka Prefectural and Municipal Governments and held the third week in October. We'll also make a quick tour of the sixth annual Overseas Investment Promotion Fair and the International Investment Promotion Plaza happening at the same time. Whew! Glad it's virtual this time around. And for those of you who attended, this will be a kind of "stroll down memory lane."

More than 600 G-BOC exhibitors are present from 29 countries outside Japan. Making our way through the Phillippines, we come upon a wide range of industries, from apparel to structural steel fabrication. Just around the corner is the City of Melbourne (of which I'm very proud to have been made an "honorary" member), and the beginning of things Australian, the likes of which have yet to debut in the U.S., including a select brand of exquisite aromatherapy oils, various snack items, designer-quality foldable furniture and parquet flooring, and motorcycle racing tire warmers (seems we're finding them a way to write "now used by U.S. racers" in their future advertising).

Passing through a half-dozen European countries, we discover foodstuffs and flowers tucked in among the industrial hard goods. We come upon Iran extending an invitation to invest in its free trade zones, South Africa displaying a rainbow of products from various regions, and a host of Turkish representatives eager to promote their country's automotive, electrical, machinery and other industries. All this before we come to North America...and this is only the first of two floors of G-BOC98.

Let's pause for a moment to consider what's going on. We've seen public and private enterprise organizations, all having to cross an ocean or two, some requiring as much as 20 hours travel time and several thousands of dollars out-of-pocket expenses per person (exhibitor fees are very modest, by the way)...many returning again and again over the years...for the opportunity to present their consumer and industrial product (and service) offers to prospective buyers and investors, mostly Japanese companies. What's the value proposition here? It's Value Creation: speeding by bullet train rather than covered wagon to get to new customers. And you get pre-arranged business introductions and meetings set up besides! But I digress for now. Time to get back to our tour.

North America: Canada, Mexico and the U.S. A potpourri of products and services...video magnifier; a bottled water producer and a restaurant-brewery (both from Hawaii); Consulate Generals, State offices and the City of Chicago; emergency survival kits...a hint at the kaleidoscope on the middle of the event's three levels.

Now let's take the escalator to the ground level, where distant locales and political circumstances await us.

With 123 representatives from several ministries, 10 provinces and 5 cities, China surpasses all the other countries in terms of participants. Want food? Jade? Machinery? High tech? Little wonder, since Japan is a shorter hop across the "pond" from the industrialized eastern provinces than the Continent is from the U.K.

More than 30 participants from Bangladesh promote their textile, printing, foodstuffs and other industries, while a large group from Myanmar offer a look at their medical, forestry, construction, jewelry and many other goods. Vietnam, Indonesia, Russia, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Nepal and Thailand are also represented.

Before taking the long escalator up to the International Investment Promotion Plaza on the third floor, we'll peek in briefly at the National and Regional Promotion and other seminars that were presented to foster communication and a greater understanding of the economic climate for foreign investment in Japan and 15 other countries.

These begin immediately after G-BOC's opening ceremony, and continue over the three-day event. The first day we learn about Japan's economy and M&A (merger and acquisition) activity as a practical management strategy; later that afternoon, China's Ministry of Foreign Trade presents an introduction to foreign capital investment in that country.

Over the next two days, an impressive roster of ambassadors, embassies, economic development agencies, and state and regional governments from North America, Europe, the Middle East, South Africa and Asia offer practical advice and valuable contacts for doing business in their respective countries.

And now, on to the International Investment Promotion Plaza. Sponsored by JETRO (Japan Exteral Trade Organization),this is its sixth event. Just under 100 government organizations from 52 countries are represented here, all offering information on doing business in their country. When you hear "we're from the government and we're here to help you" in this setting, you can believe it. Every representative is deeply knowledgeable about markets, regulations, special and eager to guide their visitors through the unique requirements for conducting business successfully in their respective countries.

In the interest of space, we'll cover just briefly the events surrounding the 2-day Global Venture Forum 98, which followed the 3-day G-BOC. Information on GVF99 (scheduled for October 21-22) will be appearing shortly on our Web site.

Just as with G-BOC, business introductions and meetings are pre-arranged for business plan presenters through the Osaka Chamber. This allows prospective business partners greater time to explore specific issues, since preliminary information has already been exchanged between the individual parties.

Of 121applicants, 34 companies from 8 countries have been selected for presentation this year. More than 400 people representing about 200 companies listen to 25-minute business plan presentations (simultaneous English/Japanese interpretation through earphones) in four basic technology areas:

  • Information and Communication Technology (15 companies)
  • Biotech, Medical and Health Care (9 companies)
  • Environment and Energy (7 companies)
  • Advanced Materials (3 companies)
resulting in 405 business talks, or an average of nearly a dozen per presenter. Nearly two-thirds of the talks have been pre-arranged, with the remaining discussions resulting from the attractive opportunity offered by this forum. Past presenters indicate a success rate of about 40% for the business talks.

A broad range of partnerships are being sought by the presenters:

  • Marketing and distribution
  • R&D assistance
  • Licensing agreements
  • lFunding
  • Joint ventures
What sorts of Japanese organizations are interested in forming these partnerships? In attendance are the major trading companies and major manufacturers. But smaller producers, banks and other financial institutions, universities and research institutes, and even government agencies are also represented.

If you have a technology in any of the four areas listed above, it's not too early to start thinking about making application for GVF99. For more information, please go to the GVF Website at:

http://www.osaka.cci.or.jp/gvf/

or send e-mail to: gvf@osaka.cci.or.jp

or to me at: jogucwa@techmanage.com

Technology Management Associates, Inc.
(312) 984-5050jogucwa@techmanage.com

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