Invitation Program for Young Leaders of the FEALAC Member Countries, SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprise) Promotion and IT

March 2, 2005

  • This program was implemented under the framework of the Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC) at the initiative of Japan. The purpose of the programe was to enhance the economic relations between the East Asian and Latin American regions.
  • A total of 30 young professionals, or one young representative from each of the 30 East Asian and Latin American countries, involved in the promotion of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) development, were invited to Japan during the period from February 20 to March 2.
  • The "Seminar on the SMEs Promotion and IT" was conducted by these participants, inviting individuals related to SMEs in Japan. The "10 Suggestions from Young Leaders" was formulated, based on the presentations and opinions exchanged among the participants, regarding specific measures to enhance the partnership between the two regions in the area of SME development as well as other issues.
  • In addition, visits to organizations related to the development of and assistance for SMEs, meeting with Japanese companies and trips to regional areas, including home stays, were conducted.
  • The program has been extremely beneficial. Because, through this programe, Japan contributed to making progress in achieving the major goal ("Enhancing Economic Ties to Further Economic Development") of the Manila Plan of Action adopted at the Second FEALAC Foreign Ministers' Meeting (FMM II) held in January 2004. At the same time, it was beneficial for promoting exchanges between the participants invited to Japan and deepening their understanding towards Japan.

1. Overview of the programe

(1) Itinerary of the program

  1. Seminar
    • Held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on February 25
    • During this invitation program, which focused on the promotion of SMEs development, participants were divided into four groups and held free discussions under such sub-themes as specific measures to enhance the partnership between the two regions in the area of SME promotion, the role to be taken on by FEALAC, and future challenges. After these group discussions, each group compiled a report and gave a presentation. Furthermore, all participants worked together and compiled the "10 Suggestions from Young Leaders" on the main theme.
  2. Visits, cultural experiences, etc.
    • The participants visited organizations related to the development of and assistance for SMEs and deepened their knowledge on Japan's approach to the promotion of SMEs development from various aspects. Furthermore, the participants visited SMEs and exchanged opinions with personnel there.
    • The participants deepened their knowledge of Japan's economy through visits to Toyota Motor Corporation. They also experienced and deepened their understanding of Japanese culture from multiple aspects through visits to regional areas (Kyoto and Hiroshima).
    • In particular, the participants had the opportunity to become acquainted with Japanese daily life by staying in ordinary Japanese homes, and many of them commented that it was a very valuable experience. The participants obtained good impressions of Japan through these activities.

(2) Participants

  1. 17 participants from Latin American countries
    Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela
  2. 13 participants from East Asian (and Oceanian) countries
    Australia, China, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, ASEAN countries (Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Viet Nam)

2. Evaluation of the programe

(1) Seminar on SMEs Promotion and IT and visit to related organizations

At the seminar, each group submitted a report on each of their discussion sessions and shared the outcome of their group discussions through ten-minute presentations. Furthermore, a more in-depth discussion was carried out on these results by exchanging opinions with personnel in charge of the SMEs development, invited from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Following this, the "10 Suggestions from Young Leaders" were compiled, which proposed the issues to be dealt with at FEALAC, such as utilization of websites, supply of IT infrastructure, improvement of enterprise education, strengthening of the private sector and more. The achievements from this seminar are as follows.

  1. This program has served as an opportunity to address the issue of "Enhancing Economic Ties to Further Economic Development and Creating Opportunities to Overcome Poverty", which is one of the three areas that constitute the Manila Plan of Action, adopted at the second Foreign Ministers' Meeting of FEALAC last year. Furthermore, mutual understanding was deepened among the participants by inviting personnel related to the development of SMEs of the FEALAC member countries and providing them with an occasion to hold free discussions regarding specific measures to promote the development of SMEs.
  2. When Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited Latin American countries in September 2004, he announced that Japan would take on a leading role in FEALAC, in "A Vision for a New Japan-Latin America and Caribbean Partnership". This program is the first project realized under Japan's initiative after the announcement of the abovementioned "Vision". In this context, by reporting the results of this program, such as "10 Suggestions from Young Leaders" at the FEALAC Senior Officials' Meeting (SOM) and other occasions, Japan will contribute to the discussions of the FEALAC.
  3. It is expected that by continuing this program, Japan will contribute to the development of its diplomatic relations with the Asia-Pacific and Latin American regions, since this program provides a unique opportunity for youths of the two regions to periodically meet and interact with one another.

(2) Others

The participants from both regions could deepen their personal friendships with one another, overcoming differences in their backgrounds, such as history, lifestyle and culture.

As for Japan, actively providing opportunities such as this program to enhance regional exchanges is very meaningful in improving the position of Japan in these regions. In addition, this program is expected to take on the role of promoting future exchanges between Japan and the participating countries as participants deepened their interest in Japan's history, culture, tradition, etc. through the program.

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