METI promotes Japan’s water business overseas
Since the initial phase of the project, the key focus has been to improve business environments by improving legal systems and rules for water projects in target markets and sharing Japan’s experience to build relationships of trust with them. In addition, there is the need to expand involvement in operation, maintenance and management rather than focusing solely on selling equipment. It is also important to get involved in projects on an ongoing basis from the perspective of the target country while promoting understanding of the advantages of Japan’s technology in terms of life cycle costs*1, and to work on projects while liaising closely with local people in both the public and private sectors.
When an emerging country is the partner, it is important to become actively involved in the operation of projects in ways that involve human resources development and investment to ensure they can be operated independently in the future. It is also important to work with those involved to raise awareness about paying for water services so that the “beneficiary-pays-the-costs” principle can be established. Emerging countries whose populations are increasing are important customers with whom Japanese companies should desire to maintain relationships for many years to come. To ensure this, the government aims to support efforts in both tangible and intangible ways.
*1: The total of all costs incurred in manufacturing or using a product, service, facility, structure, etc. during its entire life cycle (conceptualization, planning, research and development, design, production/construction, procurement, operation/maintenance and abolition).
So how does METI provide support to help execute this vision for the future in client countries ?
An official of METI’s Office for Promotion of International Project, Infrastructure System and Water Industry said: “We use a variety of support tools, including dialogue with the government of the target country, feasibility studies using public funding, and promotion of public-private partnerships to help create business opportunities and initiate projects. We also work with a variety of parties, including government ministries and public entities in Japan and overseas that are involved in the water business and invite key individuals from other countries and dispatch Japanese experts.”
“In Saudi Arabia and South Africa, where rainfall is low, there are projects in which seawater desalination plants and usage of water using technology from Japan are being tested,” the official said. “These are initiatives aimed at promoting commercialization of Japanese technologies by setting up demonstration plans overseas, carried out through the (Japanese government-affiliated) New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization. Construction of large plants ordered by target countries typically calls for a large initial investment, and it is necessary to assess business risk factors. We help businesses resolve issues that are difficult to handle on their own through government-to-government talks.”
METI also supports active use of digital technologies and promotes the export of infrastructure systems. Use of digital technology in water infrastructure is growing. It appears such technology will be used in the development of water infrastructure in potential markets in emerging and developing countries, not just in advanced economies.