Enticed by Asian growth _ Luxembourg

From October 6 to 8 numerous business leaders will go to South Korea and Japan. They told the 'Journal' what they hope to gain from this economic mission. Hans-Joachim Sommer, director of IEE in Contern, a supplier for the automobile industry, has already gone to China. 'Growth is strong in Asia. We have been already active in South Korea and since 2006 also in China and Japan. We want to increase that', he explains. Market leaders like Toyota and Hyundai are among the great Asian producers.

Charles Gosselin, director of the Cluster for Logistics, is also among the participants. 'The Luxembourg government has identified logistics as one of the important economic pillars and continues to expand the sector. In this context, the Cluster for Logistics wants to show Luxembourg's logistic capabilities to the companies of Korea and Japan. Asian shipping, forwarding and manufacturing companies can efficiently export their merchandise to all of Europe via Luxembourg. Similarly, merchandise can be imported into Asia from Luxembourg via the sea or the air.' But for Gosselin the voyage also offers a chance to 'build relationships with Japanese and Korean companies, to answer questions and gather information that we can distribute to our members. Both these countries are very industrially significant, especially in the automotive and entertainment electronics sectors. They are not to be neglected and they can offer interesting options to Luxembourg.'

For Georges Kioes, audit partner at Deloitte Luxembourg, it's also about the image that Luxembourg wants to show on the outside: 'In the countries that we will visit, an economic mission like this one with so many different participants will surely make an excellent impression of Luxembourg. The participants have the opportunity to represent Luxembourg in Asia, to gain the attention of Asian investors for the Grand-Duchy and to convince them of the advantages Luxembourg offers as a European business location. At the same time existing local relationships can be made stronger or freshened up.' Deloitte also owns a desk in South Korea.

Yves Reding, CEO of the European Business Reliance Center (EBRC) already has clients in Asia who use his data centre. 'We want client presence here, but it doesn't necessarily have to be physical', he says. Traditionally, many banks and electronic payment systems are among the clients of EBRC, including Japanese banks.

Doors at the highest level open up

'Korea is a different market, it's about gaming and the game industry', according to Reding. The mission is split in two parts. First, the participants will go to South Korea and then Japan. 'For us, Korea is very important,' because it's a dynamic market with many multinational companies like Samsung, for example. We already have clients in the gaming sector right now. But our ambition goes much further than that,' says Reding. He knows that 'the market is difficult, not least due to the eight-hout-jetlag.'

Even if he also travels to Asia on his own, Reding appreciates the economic mission. 'It has the advantage of opening up doors at the highest level. Many things happen faster even if our stay is very short.' Maybe too short to sign any agreements. 'But in Asia personal contact is much more important than it is in the USA, for example', notes the chief of EBRC.

Reding regularly participates in economic missions for EBRC. The last one visited Poland. 'We want the international market and the export clients', he emphasises. But it is important, he says, to know the economy that you're talking about. South Korea is booming but Japan is weak. The culture is different, too. 'The Japanese are less emotional than the South Koreans. The negotiations often go deep into detail and are very hierarchical', Reding noticed. Both countries have become big competitors in the meantime. 'But even though their culture is different, both business worlds have many workaholics,' Reding indicates.

By Cordelia Chaton

Published in the Letzebuerg Journal - 03/10/14
(Photo SIP - gouvernement.lu)