The Icelandic Chamber of Commerce (ISCCJ) reiterates its support for the conclusion of important bilateral agreements between Iceland and Japan.
The ISCCJ congratulates Foreign Minister Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson on his recent appointment and with reference to the Minister‘s speech on 4 April 2017 at the Nordic House in Iceland and his recent speeches to Parliament, strongly supports the Minister‘s efforts to improve ties with Iceland‘s important trading partners in Asia, including Japan.
The ISCCJ also congratulates Ambassador Yasuhiko Kitagawa on his recent appointment as Ambassador of Japan to Iceland. ISCCJ is very pleased with the appointment of an influential business person as Japan‘s Ambassador to Iceland, but Mr. Kitagawa is a former Senior Vice President of Mitsubishi Corporation, one of Japan´s largest investment and trading companies.
In light of the above the ISCCJ urges the governments of Iceland and Japan to initiate and hopefully finalize the following four very important agreements as quickly as possible.
Japan-EFTA Economic Partnership Agreement
Both Iceland and Japan rely on barrier-free trade and open markets for its products and services. On 1 March 2016, the Icelandic parliament sent a strong message to the Japanese Government by unilaterally agreeing on a resolution to initiate preparations for free trade negotiations with Japan.
ISCCJ actively supported that development but now hopes to see concrete discussions between Iceland and Japan, Iceland´s largest export market in Asia. Presently, the European Union and Japan are finalizing a comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), which includes both a free trade agreement and strategic partnership agreement. In order for Iceland to retain its strong economic and political relationship with Japan, in light of a changing international trade environment in Asia, the ISCCJ encourages the Icelandic Government to iniate formal negotiations with Japan on free trade once the EU-Japan EPA has been concluded, in cooperation with its partners in the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).
Double Taxation Agreement
The ISCCJ welcomes news of the first formal round of negotiation for a bilateral double tax agreement taking place in Tokyo 17-19 May. The ISCCJ has been an strong advocate of finalizing this agreement, which will affect many of its members.
Air Services Agreement
Iceland has actively been seeking an Air Services Agreement with Japan for over two decades.The ISCCJ believes that the agreement would further facilitate increased economic relations between our countries, greatly affecting important sectors such as tourism, investment, seafood and agriculture. From 2015 to 2016, the number of Japanese tourists visiting Iceland increased by about 35% while the number of Icelandic tourists visiting Japan has doubled from 2006 to 2016.
Working Holiday Agreement
One of the ISCCJ‘s aims is to strengthen the mutual exhange of young people between Iceland and Japan. The chamber therefore strongly supports the ongoing negotiations for a working holiday agreement, creating opportunities for young people of both countries to stay and work for an extended period in the respective host country. Moreover, the agreement will also be attractive for Icelandic and Japanese companies seeking to diversify and strengthen their organizations.
Japanese Chamber of Commerce in Iceland
The ISCCJ encourages the establishment of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce in Iceland, and strongly believes the establishment of the counterpart chamber in Iceland will be an important development in further strengthening bilateral relations between Iceland and Japan.