TOKYO - Three years ago, when Sompong Tancharoenphol founded Precision Interplas Co. Ltd., he already was doing business with Japanese firms. Tancharoenphol has been producing a wide variety of injection and blow molded products, primarily for Thai operations of Japanese manufacturers, ever since.
In mid-June, he spent nine days in Japan with almost all of his expenses picked up by the Japan External Trade Organization. He was not alone. Several times a year, JETRO invites groups of 50 business people to Japan for what they call the Export to Japan Study Program.
The intensive program begins by teaching business etiquette and ends with introductions to prospective business partners. Once accepted, participants fly to Japan at JETRO's expense.
Embarrassed by the escalating value of the yen and soaring trade surpluses, the Japanese have become the first country to spend large sums to boost imports. JETRO itself was established to boost exports, but now focuses on moving goods in the opposite direction.
The Export to Japan Study Program is open to business owners and managers all over the world. Tancharoenphol's group included participants from Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas.
Precision Interplas, based in Nonthaburi, Thailand, already produces plastics parts for automobile lights and reflectors for Thai Koito, which in turn produces complete automotive lighting assemblies for Toyota Motor Corp.'s manufacturing operation in Thailand.
What Tancharoenphol wants now is to move his business to a higher level of the manufacturing food chain - to manufacturing finished products.
He hopes to do just that by making new contacts in Japan and building new relationships.
By making new contacts with parent firms in Japan, Tancharoenphol believes he not only can increase his share of that growing pie, but also enter into relationships that involve technology transfer from Japanese companies to his own, helping him to advance to more sophisticated levels of manufacturing.
``When you make molds,'' he said, ``you need technology transfer.''
For more information about JETRO, call (03) 3582-5572 or fax at (03) 3582-0504.