The world's third largest economy is ranked 36th among Latvian trading partners. Last year the trade turnover of goods and services with Japan was 92 million euros. Latvia exports more to Japan it imports.
In 2018 Latvia exported almost 60 million euros worth of goods and services to Japan, which is a 3% increase over the previous year. In turn, imports from Japan total 35 million euros, which is almost a 30% increase over the previous year.
Half of Latvian exports to Japan include wood and byproducts, with optical devices making up a significant portion. Transport vehicles make up a large portion of imports from Japan, as well as plastic and rubber products.
In October Latvian President Egils Levits went on a working visit to Japan to participate in the coronation ceremony for the new Emperor of Japan Naruhito. A bit later in October Economics Minister Ralfs Nemiro also went on a working visit to Japan. At the end of last year Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe visited Latvia with a delegation of business representatives to discuss economic cooperation.
Latvian Investment and Development Agency Representation in Japan Director Aščepkova sees Abe's visit as a push towards broader cooperation: “We can already feel that both the political and economic dialogue between Japan and Latvia has become a lot more dynamic. New contacts were established with Latvian companies, and as far as I know, the communication continues and new projects have been created. In February of this year the EU and Japanese free trade agreement took effect, which gradually revokes tariffs for various products.”
“Japanese entrepreneurs are interested both in importing Latvian products, and in the investment environment and investment opportunities in Latvia,” says Aščepkova.
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan Yasuhiro Kawaguchi also points out the increase in Japanese tourists: “In 2018 more than 30 thousand tourists from Japan visited Latvia. That's 20% more than in the previous year.”
On Kawaguchi's initiative the Latvia Consumer Rights Protection Centre and the National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan signed a cooperation memorandum for considering complaints.
“This cooperation memorandum will make Latvia the friendliest country for Japanese consumers in Europe, not including the United Kingdom,” says Kawaguchi.
Before this memorandum the United Kingdom had been the only country in the EU to have signed such an agreement, now Latvia has become the second country.