Osaka, Northeast England business chambers link

OSAKA — The Osaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Britain’s North East Chamber of Commerce, Trade and Industry on April 15 signed a joint statement to strengthen cooperation in facilitating trade and investment, as well as to develop links between universities in the regions.

Michael Bird, chief executive of the chamber in Northeast England, said that for the next five years, this agreement will be the only permanent link the chamber will have with a Japanese chamber. For Osaka, the signing will be its fourth with a British chamber.

Osaka will provide an “excellent gateway” to the Asian region, Bird said, adding that he hopes the North East Chamber will also be able to provide companies in Osaka a window of export and investment opportunities in Britain and other European countries. Masafumi Onishi, chairman of the Osaka Chamber, said it is meaningful to deepen relations with Northeast England, which has successfully shifted itself from a heavy-industry-oriented economy to one focused on high-technology and medical industries.

More than 50 Japanese companies, including Sanyo Electric Co. and Nissan Motor Co., have invested in the region and currently employ some 15,000 people there, according to the North East Chamber. Bird also said that universities in Northeast England, which are members of the chamber, are eager to establish relationships with universities within the Osaka area, adding that a vice chancellor from New Castle University is planning to visit Osaka next spring.