Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman hosted Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono in Zagreb on Wednesday evening for talks on strengthening bilateral and economic relations.
Taro Kono became the first Japanese foreign minister to visit Croatia in 24 years. Yohei Kono, the father of the incumbent minister, was the previous Japanese foreign minister to visit Zagreb. Meanwhile, Grlić Radman's predecessor, Marija Pejčinović Burić, was on an official visit to Japan this past March.
The main topic of discussion was economic trade between the two countries, which last year amounted to roughly 100 million US dollars.
Minister Grlić Radman said it was his goal "to diversify the export of Croatian products to Japan." The minister added that the pair "had the opportunity to talk about exporting wines, oils, neck ties, video games and digital applications."
The Croatian minister said the country was particularly proud of the export of high quality tuna, which, he said, "accounts for more than 80 percent of the total value of Croatian exports to Japan."
For his part, Minister Kono said despite Croatian tuna becoming very famous in Japan, he wanted to expand and diversify investments beyond tuna: "I am hoping to bring more Japanese into the sector of manufacturing, as well as IT and high-tech industries. Many Japanese companies are hoping to utilize human resources in Croatia. And Croatia, with its ports and railway networks, could be a gateway for Japanese companies into Eastern and Central Europe."
Glrić Radman underscored Croatia's trade surplus with Japan, and added that small and medium-sized businesses were to be the driving force behind the planned economic boost with Japan. In this context, he mentioned the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), signed between the European Union and Japan. The EPA came into force on February 1st this year and abolishes 97% of tariffs on goods imported from the EU.
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