Bulgaria-Japan Economic Cooperation to Expand from Yogurt to Electric Cars

Business | July 25, 2010, Sunday // 13:26|  views

The top-level Japanese business delegation was welcomed in Sofia by the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Photo by BCCI

Japanese companies have expressed interest in the joint production of electric cars with Bulgarian firms, according to Bulgarian Economy Minister Traicho Traikov.

Traikov has met in Sofia with a delegation of Nippon Keidanren, the Japan Business Federation, whose visit to Bulgaria was organized by the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI). During his recent visit to China, the Bulgarian Economy Minister announced Chinese companies were also interested in partnership with Bulgaria for the manufacturing of electric cars.

“We are really hoping that Japanese companies that are actively interested in the European market will consider Bulgaria as a manufacturing base,” Traikov told the 33 Japanese businessmen, who included the two Co-Chairmen of the Keidanren Committee on Europe - Yokoyama Shinichi, who is also Chairman of the Sumitomo Life Insurance company, and Kobayashi Yoshimitsu, who is also the Chairman of the Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings corporation.

According to data presented during the meeting, a total of 500 million cartoons of Bulgarian yogurt with the unique bacteria lactobacillus bulgaricus were sold in Japan in 2009.

The Bulgarian yogurt is the most famous Bulgarian food product. At a meeting between the Bulgarian Minister of Foods and the Japan's Ambassador to Bulgaria, Tsuneharu Takeda, in November 2009, it was made clear that the Bulgarian yogurt holds about 60% of the Japanese food market, which means that around 40 million Japanese consume the Bulgarian product.

LB Bulgaricum, a state-owned Bulgarian company, holds the patent for the production of Bulgarian yogurt with the lactobacillus bulgaricus bacteria. It receives EUR 5 M annually under patent rights from the production of Bulgarian yogurt in Japan.

The Nippon Keindanren delegation included Shigetaro Asano, the head of the Meiji Dairies Corporation, which has been producing Bulgarian yogurt in Japan since 1973. (A 2003 Novinite.com article about Asano's visit in Sofia READ HERE)

Another topic discussed during the meeting of the Bulgarian Economy Minister with the leading Japanese businessmen included measures to increase the number of Japanese tourists coming to Bulgaria. According to Traikov, the opening of a Bulgarian tourism bureau in Japan would lead to a 60% increase. He has advised Japanese travelers to combine their trips to Greece and Turkey with stops in Bulgaria.

The visit of the Nippon Keidanren business delegation to Bulgaria is combined with visits to Romania and Slovakia, whose aim is to explore the possibilities for intensifying the commerical relations between Japan and the newest EU member states.

The membership of the Japan Business Federation Nippon Keidanren includes 1,295 companies, 129 industrial associations, and 47 regional economic organizations.

Before meeting with the Economy Minister, the Japanese delegation also met with the Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov who invited more Japanese companies to invest in the country.

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Tags: electric cars, Economy Minister, Traicho Traikov, Sumitomo Life Insurance, Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings, Yokoyama Shinichi, Kobayashi Yoshimitsu, Nippon Keidanren, Japan, Japanese, business delegation, Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, BCCI, Japan Business Federation, yogurt, Meiji Dairies Corporation, Shigetaro Asano


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