Association, Inc.

Issue No. 3, 2006

JAMA Annual Reception: Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the launch of the partnership with the European Union

On 3 July 2006, JAMA held its eleventh annual reception in the historical setting of the Royal Museum of Art and History.  The reception was hosted by JAMA’s new chairman since May 2006, Mr Fujio Cho, who is also chairman of Toyota Motor Corporation.

This year’s annual reception was particularly significant as it coincided with the 20th anniversary of the launch of the partnership with the European Union. The considerable investment made by JAMA members over the last 20 years has enabled them to build a production capacity delivering almost 70% of the Japanese brands sold in Europe.  It has also enabled them to create highly skilled jobs and develop mutually beneficial relations with European parts manufacturers, who today provide more than 80% in value of the parts used in the European production plants of Japanese automobile manufacturers. Today, JAMA members form an integral part of the European automotive industry and they aim to continue contributing to the development of a sustainable and competitive automotive industry in Europe, notably through enhanced partnerships.

JAMA was particularly happy to have the opportunity to celebrate this important milestone with its friends and partners in Europe.  JAMA was especially honoured to welcome two distinguished guest speakers who kindly accepted to share their perspective with JAMA on this occasion: Mr Heinz Zourek, Director General of the Enterprise and Industry DG of the European Commission, and Mr Mark Gibson, Director General of the Enterprise and Business Group of the UK’s Department of Trade and Industry.

Mr Zourek’s address focussed on two particular topics: globalisation and R&D. In particular, he highlighted how the various forms of co-operation between Japanese and European manufacturers (ranging from equity participation to joint ownership of manufacturing plants) have already offered ‘new opportunities for sharing costs and optimising production efficiency.  But in his view, ‘globalisation has not yet had its last word’ and he firmly believes that other forms of international co-operation impacting the structure and operation of the automotive sector are still to come.  This, together with the opening of new (emerging) markets, will present further opportunities if Japan and Europe stand together in ensuring that competition is governed by fairness and a clear set of common rules.  In this area, Mr Zourek would like to see expanded co-operation between Europe and Japan.

With regard to research and development (R&D), he welcomes JAMA’s commitment and Japanese manufacturers’ contribution to the ‘knowledge economy’ through the running of 11 R&D centres in the EU.  ‘I would therefore encourage the automotive industry to continue investing in strategically important fields related not only to the industry itself but also relevant to wider societal concerns, such as energy security and climate change, Mr Zourek said.

Mr Mark Gibson, Director General of the Enterprise and Business Group of the UK’s Department of Trade and Industry, highlighted the importance and contribution of Japanese auto manufacturers to the British economy.  He mentioned the pivotal role played by the UK SMMT Industry Forum, in which the skills of Japanese engineers are shared with a view to boosting productivity across the supply chain.

Mr Gibson also reminded the audience that the backbone of the UK automotive sector comes from three Japanese manufacturers that, together, produce over 50% of the cars manufactured in the UK

In his address, JAMA’s new chairman Mr Fujio Cho reminded participants that over the last 20 years, there has been considerable growth in Japanese automakers’ EU-based business activities, which are deeply rooted in local communities.  This progress is a reflection of Japanese manufacturers’ basic belief that motor vehicles will most effectively meet European consumers’ needs when they are developed and manufactured in Europe.

The automobile industry is now a genuinely global sector, extending worldwide across countries and regions.  Against that backdrop, the co-operative ties between the European and Japanese auto industries have progressively become closer and stronger.  Indeed, one of the keys to successful operations in the EU was the establishment of partnerships with European industries.  JAMA member companies now purchase €11.2 billion worth of EU-built auto parts annually, while their exports of finished vehicles from the EU totalled 380,000 units last year.  In these various ways, they are making a significant contribution to the EU economy.

Chairman Cho stressed the importance of and full support from JAMA for the adoption of an integrated approach to reducing CO2 and other vehicle emissions and improving road safety.

Following the keynote speeches, participants, who included representatives from the automotive industry, the EU institutions and the media, had the opportunity to continue their discussions and networking while enjoying traditional Japanese cuisine.