Another Meeting With JETRO

I have an appointment with JETRO, the trade arm of the Japanese govt, coming up next next Tuesday in Bangkok to help arrange some potential buyers for Japanese fishery products. If history is of any indication, this will be a non-event, simply because government workers never get anything productive done and have an agenda of their own.

I remember 2 years ago, flying out to Dubai to exhibit at a trade show sponsored by the Japanese government. It was a small event, invitation-only, with less than 10 vendors in total. To my surprise, those government cucks simply did not give a shit about economic results generated from that event. As a matter of fact, the clientele invited to the event were not even relevant. All they wanted was to invite some folks over from TV Asahi and other media outlets to snap pictures of the Japanese trade commissioner on an intimate stroll with some high ranking arab dude, with us, legitimate trading companies in the back drop. That’s all they cared about – their image and how it was portrayed back home.

I was so frustrated that trip, I ended up cold-calling potential buyers way out in the fucking desert to set up meetings with them. We drove for hours out of Dubai and in through sand laden highways to meet with buyers to pitch them scallops and other delicacies we brought from Hokkaido, carefully packed in temperature controlled boxes. We didn’t close any deals, but I couldn’t stand the thought of wasting a trip it took us 12 hours to get to. This time round, if they have the slightest bit of decency in them to invite the right buyers, I can sell. I know roughly the network of distributors in Thailand and this time we are better positioned to negotiate.

On the other hand, I understand the strategy of relying on government-backed networking is very Japanese. The first thing Japanese companies do when setting up overseas, is get in touch with their govt posted there. I credit that to the fact that most of the expats sent from Japan have little to no experience working in an international environment, leaving them clueless on where to begin. Granted, their government is helpful, but are not performance oriented.