Research 2016-17

Productivity--a targeted topic for policy awareness and action (Jun. 2017)

Trying to take productivity issues to Vietnamese government@

There are many things to be done to accelerate industrialization, but a country has only limited time and human and financial resources. Instead of advising 50 policies, it is better to concentrate on a few topics (or even one), making sure that the chosen policy is designed and executed with full support and professionalism.

Our GRIPS team, together with JICA and developing country researchers, is promoting "productivity" as a national core issue in both Vietnam and Ethiopia. Actually, Ethiopia is already vigorously implementing kaizen as a productivity tool, but we want to broaden the policy scope beyond kaizen. As to Vietnam, it talks about productivity but does not know what to do.

GRIPS/JICA commissioned a policy paper on productivity to Vietnamese researchers, soon to be completed. In Ethiopia, we also commissioned a small review paper and are talking to the Central Statistical Agency to assess its data quality and analytical capacity. Apart from data works, GRIPS/JICA are implementing or planning projects to improve productivity in both countries. They include generating export champion products, handholding for selected manufacturing firms, review of past productivity tools and city kaizen movements, strengthening FDI policy and industrial park quality, dispatching Japanese industrial experts, and strengthening policy capacity of domestic researchers and industrial institutes.

Japan is a lead donor in QPC (quality, productivity & competitiveness) in Ethiopia. We are working with Japanese ambassadors in both countries to implement these policies.

Mobilizing foreigners proficient in monozukuri (Apr. 2017)

Mr. Dayasiri Mr.Tuyen

There are many non-Japanese people who studied in Japan or worked in Japanese firms, and mastered Japanese language and the spirit and skills of monozukuri (Japanese style manufacturing). The GRIPS Development Forum is proposing the Japanese government to actively support and use their businesses and services abroad. Izumi Ohno leads a policy research program at the Asia Pacific Institute of Research (Osaka) while Kenichi Ohno cooperates with Vietnamese firms, researchers and the Japanese embassy in Hanoi for that purpose.

When he was young, Mr. Dayasiri Warnakulasooria (Sri Lanka) came to Seto City in Japan to learn ceramic production. After returning to Colombo, he set up a ceramic factory and exported products to the US with Japanese guidance. He has long been a hub of learning Japanese language, spirit and technology in Sri Lanka, heading and actively assisting many programs and associations. He was awarded a Japanese medal for this.

Mr. Nguyen Xuan Tuyen (Vietnam) came to Japan as a ginno jisshusei (technical trainee) and learned welding at an SME at the foot of Mt. Fuji for three years. Upon returning to Hanoi, he created a company that trains and dispatches Vietnamese workers to Japan with proper mindset and attitude based on his own experience in Japan. He believes workers must have long-term life plans and self-discipline, and work very hard for their family and country. JICA now supports his company.

Both speak perfect Japanese and can teach Japanese spirit and attitude to others. They are willing to do more and more to spread Japanese monozukuri in their native lands.

Policy dialogue continues in Ethiopia (Jul. 2016)

The GRIPS Development Forum (GDF), together with JICA, has conducted Industrial Policy Dialogue with Ethiopia since 2008 (Phase 1 & 2). Regular and intensive discussions were held at three levels (Prime Minister, ministers, operational). Kaizen, the champion product approach, export & FDI policies, etc. have been implemented. Ethiopia is now learning advanced kaizen and disseminating kaizen knowledge to the rest of Africa. The Ethiopian government requested, and GDF & JICA agreed, to continue the dialogue into the third phase. Planning sessions for Phase 3 were held in Addis Ababa in early July.

Japan is going to provide a number of new industrial projects for strengthening Ethiopian enterprises, industrial linkage, technology transfer and investment climate. GDF will deeply involve Ethiopian policy research institutes to jointly produce pragmatic policy advice so they will be able to do the same even after Japanese experts leave - "import substitution" of industrial policy research. Two of the GRIPS PhD alumni will be involved in this.

Ethiopia is rapidly building industrial parks to absorb garment FDI from China, India, Southeast Asia, etc. now coming in large numbers. Japan will build a special industrial area that satisfies high standards required by Japanese FDI. The JETRO office was officially inaugurated in Addis Ababa on July 20.

South African automotive sector (Apr. 2016)

South Africa has good roads but car sales are slowing down.

The automotive industry in South Africa has grown on lavish subsidies on FDI car makers. However, it has stopped growing (current volume: 600,000 vehicles/year) and needs revamping in order to survive and compete globally. I was invited by the Japanese Embassy & JICA in Pretoria to look at the matter and advise what Japan could do to improve the situation.

I gave two seminars to policy makers and researchers, interviewed the National Treasury and the Department of Trade & Industry, had informal but intensive talks with key DTI officials, visited Toyota factory, and so on. The automotive policy of South Africa is very different from a typical East Asian country. It subsidizes CKD, SKD and parts import instead of domestic value creation or technology transfer. Incentives are fragmented and last only five years in principle. DTI officials want to improve the policy but top leaders are afraid to remove current incentives due to peculiar political economy of this country.

My diagnosis is that difficulty can be overcome only by strong policy ownership and capability. It is not certain if South Africa can do this. However, political leadership may improve in the near future. On the Japanese side, strong intellectual and industrial cooperation is useful provided that it is an "All Japan" effort encompassing all related ministries, JICA, JETRO and interested car makers.       My back-to-office report

Vietnam: Province-based Economic Growth (PBEG) Initiative (Apr. 2016)

BRVT Chairman Linh (right) meets Keidanren official on April 18.

Since 2015, JICA Vietnam and GRIPS Development Forum have joined hands in PBEG, which aims at creating high industrial growth in a few provinces to become a policy model for the country. Ha Nam Province in the north and Baria-Vungtau (BRVT) Province in the south were selected for their proactive mindset and economic potential.

After a research team of Vietnam National University collects basic information, a large mission conducts intensive policy dialogue with provincial leaders, meets with economic departments and agencies, and visits infrastructure, farms and factories. If the policy content and capability of the province are considered reasonable, JICA will prepare a large number of cooperation projects in industrial HR, infrastructure, etc. and invite Japanese investors appropriate for the province.  I am the leader of the policy dialogue between each province and the Japanese team.

With the opening of a new highway to Hanoi and active policies of the provincial leader, Ha Nam is attracting many Japanese manufacturers. BRVT has oil and gas, deep sea ports (Japanese ODA), and highways to Ho Chi Minh City are being constructed in steps. The top team of BRVT visited Japan in mid April and explained its policy to Keidanren.

Policy research in Thailand & Cambodia (Jun. 2015)

A GRIPS Development Forum team visited Thailand and Cambodia from May 25 to 29.

In Thailand we updated information on FDI-local firm matching for input procurement or joint venture partnership. There are several organizations promoting this linkage including BOI Unit for Industrial Linkage; Bureau of Supporting Industry Development of MOI; Japan Desk & One-Start-One-Stop Center under the Board of Investment (BOI); Japan Desk under MOI; Alliance for Supporting Industries Association (business association group); and Technology Promotion Association (industrial NPO). FDI-Thai firm matching is a difficult task, and no one organization can cover everything, but it is conducted reasonably well in Thailand with formal & informal networking and mutual reference among organizations.

In Cambodia we studied overall quality & practice of industrial policy. From the position of very weak policy capability, Cambodia is gradually gaining policy ownership. The Rice Policy, revisions of FDI law, a new SEZ law, and the development plan of Sihanoukville were drafted and some began to be implemented. The latest addition is the Industrial Development Policy (IDP) 2015-2025, approved in March 2015, that guides Cambodia's future industrialization. The broad direction of IDP is well-focused and reasonable, but implementation details must now be worked out. Policies are crafted and executed by a joint effort of several top technocrats. The Supreme National Economic Council (SNEC), the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF), and the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) are the three lead policy mechanisms. Cambodia's current industrial policy is limited, but its dynamic mindset may produce good policies in the future.