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In 2017, Japanese Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows into the UK were worth £92.4 billion with Japan ranking at the UK’s single largest investor, accounting for 29% of all inward FDI flows.

Japan and the UK Market 

The United Kingdom is a major trade partner for Japan, with total exports to in 2018 totaling ¥1.53 trillion ($14 billion), the second-largest in the EU bloc after Germany. As for imports, the United Kingdom was Japan’s fourth-largest trade partner among EU members at around ¥909.4 billion in 2018.

Japan is currently the third largest economy in the world with a GDP of $5.18 trillion (2019). In the 4 quarters to the end of Q1 2019, UK exports to Japan amounted to £14.6 billion, an increase of 8.5% from the same period the previous year. Discover more at the Department for International Trade.


Objectives for UK-Japan trade talks


The UK and Japan are both vocal champions of free trade and the rules-based global trading system.

In May 2020 the Government published data that suggests the UK economy could benefit from a £1.5 billion boost by having a FTA with Japan, as a UK-Japan trade deal could increase trade flows between both countries by £15.2 billion

Japan and the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce

The Kansai Region

Whilst the Chamber works with companies across Japan, it has an established working relationship with the Kansai Region – the second largest economy in Japan – which is home to many famous cities, including Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto.


The region, which is similar to the Thames Valley, has strengths in many of the same industry clusters, including energy, life sciences and technology (IoT and AI). Established links with academic institutions also ensure that the Thames Valley and Kansai regions have similar aspirations to strengthen international activities through solid partnerships.

In 2014, this strong relationship culminated in a Memorandum of Understanding of Trade and Investment Co-operation, signed between TVCC and the Osaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, resulting in visits by trade delegations.


Among companies from the Kansai region who have chosen to open offices in the Thames Valley are MizunoNintendoPanasonic and Takeda.

Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce – Japan Desk 

The Japan Desk at the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce works with member UK businesses helping identify partnerships and strategy agreements as well as building stronger working relationships with those wanting to establish companies or work in the Japanese market. With many UK companies’ showing a strong interest in dealing with Japan for exporting, importing and collaborative partnerships over the years, ongoing opportunities are readily available.

One area the Japan desk has played a pivotal role is in helping remove common misconceptions about the Japanese market and its willingness to embrace external businesses. These include: “Japan is a closed market”; “It is difficult to get into the market due to strong ties between Japanese group companies”; “Japanese technology is advanced and there is no room for us.”  In fact, many Japanese companies are keen to work with UK counterparts but are often unsure how to reach the right organisation.

Japan Desk support includes:


–  Specialist Helpline
–  1-2-1 consultation
–  Events and Market Visits
–  Bilateral Market Entry Support
–  Bilateral Inward Investment Support
–  Identifying Partners for Business Collaboration and R & D
–  Multi-Cultural Business Training

LEFT: Discover more about the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce’s partnership with Japan in this interview with Masako Eguchi-Bacon, CEO of Oceanbridge Management Ltd.
To find out more about the Japan Desk, please email export@tvchamber.co.uk or phone +44 (0)1753 870 560.

This service was created exclusively for the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce – Global members and is available free of charge as part of the membership subscription. Read more, HERE.